The Islamic Post Blog

Alleged Link to Khadr Revives Arar Case by ipinfo2
March 25, 2009, 5:50 am
Filed under: March Volume 2009, National

In 2003, after being ostensibly cleared of terrorism allegations by the Commissioner of the Inquiry, Justice Dennis O’Connor, Maher Arar is once again on the receiving end of scrutiny as the Omar Khadr terrorist hearings get underway.

By Subhana A. Rahim
Islamic Post Staff Writer

Arar, Canadian wireless technology consultant, 34 years of age at the time, was at the center of a controversial “extraordinary rendition” case in 2002. Although Syrian by birth, Arar became a Canadian citizen back in 1991. His connection to his homeland apparently sparked the events that followed. While on his way home from a vacation in Tunisia, Arar arrived at New York’s JFK Airport during a stopover. While there he was apprehended and detained by US officials. He was subsequently interrogated about alleged reports that he was somehow linked to a terrorist installation of Al-Qaeda. Almost two weeks later he was deported to Syria and was eventually brutally tortured by Syrian government officials. After a long ordeal of trying to prove his innocence, Arar was extradited back to Canada. The pressure that was spurred on by various human rights advocacy groups and the relentless work of his wife, ultimately allowed his case to be heard by the Canadian Government.  After an intense probe, Arar was cleared of all terrorism allegations by the Commissioner of Inquiry. “I have heard evidence concerning all of the information gathered by Canadian investigators in relation to Mr. Arar,” said Justice O’Connor. “… I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offense or that his activities constitute a threat to the security to Canada.” Arar has also received apologies from US lawmakers, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Prime Minister.
Concurrently with these events, in 2002 a 15 year old Canadian teenager named Omar Khadr was detained at Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility in Cuba for allegedly killing a US soldier with a hand grenade in Afghanistan. Although there was weak physical evidence to substantiate this allegation, Khadr eventually allegedly confessed to this offense after being interrogated by US special agents.  He was charged with murder, attempted murder and spying amongst other offenses. The Khadr case has attracted huge amounts of attention worldwide as questions about his age at the time of his incarceration and interrogation emerged.
When the Khadr trial began late last month the alleged connection between Arar and Khadr emerged. US Special Agent, Robert Fuller testified that Khadr not only admitted to killing an American soldier but that after he was shown a photograph, he recognized Maher Arar as a fellow conspirator from an Al-Qaeda installation in Kabul. Although speculation remains about whether or not Khadr actually implicated Arar (notes taken from the interrogation do not explicitly verify Khadr’s familiarity with Arar) suspicion has resurfaced regarding Arar’s innocence. Arar himself has expressed his shock and dismay at the alleged linkage to the Khadr case. While Arar still struggles to call the responsible parties to account for his own false imprisonment and torture, he now bears the burden of defending himself in yet again.
Meanwhile, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin cited the case Mr Maher Arar this month in presenting a report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. According to Jurist, the report is “critical of international counterterrorism practices.”


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