Winnipeg Man Could be Test Case for Canada’s Latest Tool in Fight Against Terrorism: Revoking Citizenship
Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh resettled in Winnipeg after surviving the Iran-Iraq war and, in 2007, he took the oath of citizenship, swearing to faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill his duties as a Canadian citizen.
But he didn’t.
Instead, he traveled to Afghanistan, swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. He studied bomb-making and returned to Canada to recruit for attacks.
On Sept 17, he pleaded guilty to possessing explosives with the intent to endanger life for the benefit of a terrorist group. He was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment by a judge who said he deserved “derision and contempt.”
But the government will soon decide whether he deserves an added penalty. Legislation that received royal assent in June will allow Ottawa to revoke the citizenship of Canadians convicted of terrorism — provided they are also citizens of another country.
While the law has not yet been enacted, that will likely happen in the coming weeks. And when it does, Alizadeh could become the test case because not only was he convicted of a serious terrorism offence, he is also a citizen of both Canada and Iran.
Defence lawyer Leonardo Russomanno, who represents Alizadeh, said his client was aware of the citizenship revocation law but had not been notified he might become its first target.
Canada already has the power to revoke landed immigrant status from those engaged in terrorism. The new law extends that, empowering authorities to annul citizenship as well. It applies only to dual nationals who have been convicted of a terrorist offence — as defined in the Criminal Code — and who have been sentenced to at least five years imprisonment. It doesn’t matter whether those convictions occurred within Canada or abroad.
In addition to terrorists, it can be used against those convicted of treason, espionage and members of “an organized armed group in an armed conflict with Canada,” raising the possibility that those who have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham could fall under its powers.
Before it can revoke, the government must first send a written notice explaining its grounds. A hearing may be held. The decision effectively becomes a deportation order and can only be appealed if a judge decides there is a “serious question of general importance.”
John McCallum, the Liberal immigration critic, said he was concerned that the judgments of foreign courts could influence Canada’s decision to revoke citizenship, arguing the term terrorism was used “extremely loosely” against government opponents in countries like Sri Lanka.
The safeguards built into the law are also weak, he said, and it creates two classes of Canadians — those who hold dual nationality and those who don’t. Neither was he convinced that deporting terrorists was a sound national security strategy.
Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh wanted to develop a network of extremists whom he could send for training and call upon to carry out the attacks. He was looking for bomb-making materials and wanted to acquire weapons and C-4 explosives.
When he and co-accused Misbahuddin Ahmed were arrested in August 2010, following an RCMP counter-terrorism investigation named Project Samosa, police seized detonators that had been custom built by a bomb expert at a terrorist training camp, and instructions on how to make remote control bombs.
Yusuf Abdelrehman, the Winnipeg grocer who employed Alizadeh after he came to Canada, said he took no position on whether the terrorist also deserved to lose his citizenship.
Source: National Post