The Strange Story of Abousfian Abdelrazik
The name of Abousfian Abdelrazik doesn’t trip off the tongue quite as easily as those of Omar Khadr and Maher Arar, two other Canadian citizens with roots in the Islamic world who have been famously caught up in the American-led “war on terror”. Abdelrazik is probably also less familiar to Canadians, but his story deserves to be more widely known and discussed.
Abdelrazik comes from Sudan, and became a Canadian citizen in 1995. Paul Koring, in the Globe and Mail, reports that CSIS was “interested” in him by 1999. Apparently he had been praying at a radical mosque, and allegedly attending al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. He also became acquainted with Ahmed Ressam, the “Millennium Bomber” who was later convicted of plotting to blow up Los Angeles airport.
In 2003, Abdelrazik travelled to Sudan to visit his ailing mother – and ended up in a Sudanese prison, without ever being charged with a crime. At least by his own account, he was beaten, interrogated by visiting CSIS agents, and told by the Sudanese that he had been arrested purely at the request of Canada and the United States. They let him go in 2004, and his wife in Montreal sent him the money for a Lufthansa ticket “home” to Canada.
In the end, however, Abdelrazik was not allowed to travel on Lufthansa, apparently because he was on the American government’s notorious “no-fly list”. Air Canada and other airlines also refused his business, and his name appeared on a separate UN list of individuals linked to terrorism, effectively making it illegal for anyone to give him financial assistance. More recently, Etihad Airlines of the United Arab Emirates has offered to carry him in defiance of the no-fly list, but Canada refuses to issue the necessary papers.
Abdelrazik is being treated shabbily by our government, but I’m more exercised about the Orwellian “lists” that are helping to keep him stranded in Sudan. The U.S. no-fly list, in particular, has demonstrably ensnared innocent civilians who happen to share a name with a suspected terrorist, and people in this position have no clear legal recourse. Worse yet is the fact that America has apparently succeeded in imposing this list on Air Canada and other international airlines, even with respect to flights that do not cross U.S. airspace. After the election dust clears in October, our new government should raise vociferous objections.