Mourad Ikhlef arrived in Canada in 1993, and obtained refugee status in 1994. Based on allegations of past involvement with the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) of his native Algeria, as well as a connection to Ahmed Ressam a security certificate was issued in 2001, and on December 12 he was arrested in his home city of Montreal. He was deported to Algeria on February 28, 2003.
In 1994, Ikhlef's brother Nabil also sought entry to Canada as a refugee, but was declined. Nevertheless, he was granted permanent resident status, and the two brothers would often meet with Ahmed Ressam, Fateh Kamal and other local Algerians to have coffee and watch television. His brother claims to have travelled to Naples, Italy alone - where Il Matino magazine published an article stating that both he and Ikhlef were in the country, and al-Qaeda agents.
Following his departure, Algeria tried Ikhlef in absentia and sentenced him to death for involvement in "terrorism-related activities", which they alleged included travelling to Bosnia and Afghanistan to participate in jihad, and training in weapons and explosives, with both al-Qaeda and the Groupe Islamique Armee. Ikhlef denied all the charges to Canadian officials, arguing that the GIA didn't even exist when he left Algeria.
Arrest and deportation
His deportation was carried out by Canadian immigration officials, in a private plane due to the perceived security concerns. Upon arrival Ikhlef was transferred to the control of Algerian military police, the DRS, and immediately put in detention. He was held for 10 days, during which time his family was unable to obtain his whereabouts. On March 10 he was taken to court to face three separate charges, but was denied legal counsel.
While acquitted on one count he was sentenced to 7 years, in 2005, based on "membership in a terrorist group." The evidence for this charge was believed to have been based on statements made by the accused while under duress.
Ikhlef was released from prison on March 26, 2006 as part of a national reconciliation program, the controversial Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, but re-arrested one week later by DRS officials.
- Docket: DES-8-01, Reasons for Order and Order, March 8, 2002
- Victor Malarek, Globe and Mail, Mar 4, 2003
- Amnesty International, Unrestrained Powers: Torture by Algeria’s Military Security, July 10, 2006