Omar Khadr’s older brother Abdullah is currently fighting extradition from Canada to the United States. He is accused of participating in al-Qaeda training camps and of supplying military equipment and supplies to al-Qaeda for use in Afghanistan. After a year in prison in Afghanistan, during which time he was interrogated by the FBI and the RCMP, in 2005 Canada arranged for his return but arrested him in Toronto shortly after. He has been in custody since that time.
It was revealed in court that the American government paid Afghan officials half a million dollars to capture him. While in captivity, he claims that a hood was placed over his head and face and that he was beaten and threatened with rape.
|Mohamed Harkat and wife, Sophie. Photo courtesy of Corinne Allan (www.yayacanada.com).|
They have been living in the basement of a house occupied by Sophie’s mother and her boyfriend, and the bail conditions included the requirement that Sophie, her mother, or her mother’s partner be with Mohamed at all times. Then the mother’s romantic relationship fell apart, and she moved out.
Now, relations between the Harkats (especially Sophie) and the former boyfriend in whose house they continue to live are growing ever more tense. The boyfriend, Alois Weidemann, had agreed to house them for up to six weeks after Judge Eleanor Dawson permitted his bail to continue after Sophie’s mother left. Now, about three months later, tensions between Sophie and Weidemann appear close to the breaking point. Bitterness between the former lovers causes hostility when the mother visits the Harkats.
The couple have located a place to move into, but the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) does not approve. The home is in a townhouse condominium complex, and the condominium corporation is unwilling to meet the Agency’s requirements for outdoor cameras and a parking space for the agents. As well, they are concerned about the difficulty in monitoring the back yard and a door in the backyard fence.
Weidemann feels victimized by the requirement for an outdoor camera because the CBSA asked his permission to put the camera up at the house, and he agreed. Now that agreement has come back to haunt him.
There is a possible solution to the housing problem, a solution that no one seems to have thought of. Weidemann wants to sell the house and move, but he can’t because Sophie’s mother owns ten per cent and will not agree to a sale because the Harkats are there, as is her piano. So why doesn’t the government buy the house and rent it to the Harkats? That way they would not have to move.
As to the cost to the government, it would be cheap. Currently, they have to put out money on court battles over the problem. They spent $3.2 million to build a special holding unit, Guantanamo North, for five Muslim men fighting deportation on the basis of alleged terrorist connections. Currently, the unit houses one person, Hassan Almrei, at a cost of $2 million a year. And besides, after the case is over the government could sell the house to recoup all or much of the cost.
The tensions are hard on Sophie, who is a diabetic and has high blood pressure, and the conflicts are creating a level of anxiety that could be dangerous for her. She told Judge Dawson that “I am so upset we have to be in a courtroom begging to get out of a situation which is so obviously not working.”
If the Harkats are forced to remain where they are with no change in the situation, Sophie’s health and safety could well be at risk. The possible consequences would not reflect well on the CBSA, the government, or the judge. Buying the house, thus leaving Weidemann free to move out, is an obvious solution.
Source for photo: www.yayacanada.com/harkat15a_govt_appeal.html