An Egyptian terrorism suspect has been released from years of jail, but the Federal Court judge yesterday expressed strong security concerns and a lack of confidence in the man's main bail surety, his wife.
Mahmoud Jaballah was released from a detention centre in Kingston and will be placed under an extreme form of house arrest. He is the second terrorism suspect freed in two days, after the release of Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub on Thursday.
Egyptian terrorism suspect Mahmoud Jaballah was released from a detention centre in Kingston and will be placed under an extreme form of house arrest. He is the second terrorism suspect freed in two days, after the release of Mohamed Zeki Mahjoub on Thursday.
After being detained for nearly six years, Mr. Jaballah was escorted by officials back to his Toronto home, where he will live with his wife and six children, several of whom are now responsible for watching his every move.
“He's out,” the suspect's lawyer, Barbara Jackman, said last night. “I'm just pleased he's out. It's been so hard on them as people, as individuals.”
Since 1999, the Canadian government has been trying to use the federal security-certificate process to deport the terrorism suspect and, after losing its initial case, had Mr. Jaballah rearrested in 2001. He had been jailed ever since as courts, citing concerns about torture in his native Egypt, rejected efforts to deport him.
The release quickly followed a 62-page bail decision by Madame Justice Carolyn Layden-Stevenson. The judge writes that security-certificate cases rely on “reasonable suspicion,” not criminal standards of proof. “There are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Jaballah was a senior member of [Egyptian al-Jihad] who acted as a communicator among terrorist cells of the AJ and al-Qaeda” during the time of the deadly 1998 al-Qaeda bombings in Africa.
She says the suspect's late-1990s phone records have never been adequately explained: “Although provided with the opportunity to address the 72 calls to Yemen, the 47 calls to Azerbaijan, the 75 calls to London, England [to an alleged al-Qaeda front] . . . and the 20 calls to the United Kingdom, Yemen, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan within a two-day time frame, Mr. Jaballah either failed to do so or was evasive.”
The substance of these calls placed from Canada have never been spelled out in any public Canadian court proceeding. The judge has access to classified evidence.
But this damning intelligence was weighed against the fact that Mr. Jaballah has spent six consecutive years in custody without ever being charged with a crime. In granting bail, the Federal Court largely deferred to a recent Supreme Court decision that suggests that the threat posed by terrorists diminishes with the amount of time they spend in custody.
Now released, Mr. Jaballah will find that his wife is effectively his warden. Yet the court has serious reservations about Husnah Al-Mashtouli. She “previously lied to the court” about her husband's associations and travels, according to Judge Layden-Stevenson. “My confidence is lacking in relation to Ms. Al-Mashtouli,” she noted.
She expressed more faith that Mr. Jaballah's eldest son, university student Ahmad, will keep tabs on his father. The judge added that she expects the tight conditions she imposed to be observed. “Without restrictive conditions, I entertain no doubt that Mr. Jaballah could and possibly would communicate and associate with individuals and organizations with terrorist beliefs and objectives.”
Mr. Jaballah's house arrest will be strict, his communications will be closely monitored and federal agents will follow him whenever he leaves his home.
A source yesterday suggested immigration-control officials in Toronto are preparing to lobby for as many as 20 new enforcement positions, just to keep tabs on Mr. Jaballah and the newly released Mr. Mahjoub, an Osama bin Laden associate.
Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said that he remains disturbed by Mr. Jaballah's presence in Canada. “The court has agreed with the evidence that suggests that Mr. Jaballah had active participation from within Canada of the 1998 bombings in Kenya and Tanzania,” he said.
“Children and innocent people were blown to pieces,” Mr. Day added.
Mr. Jaballah's lawyer countered the alleged role is unproven and highly nebulous. Ms. Jackman pointed out that the U.S. government indicted a series of suspects in the embassy bombings, but Mr. Jaballah “wasn't named as an unindicted co-conspirator, nothing.”