Book and Movie offers…speaking engagements with the likes of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association…constant promotion from Democracy Now! …essay competitions and “Distinguished Lecture Series” status at Political Science Departments… subject of off-Broadway plays…recipient of prestigious awards from “Progressive” institutions… Maher Arar mania just won’t end on the left! The narrative as presented by Maher and his CAIR handlers makes the paranoid-fantasy anti-Bush crowd salivate (“Innocent man racially profiled, rendered to foreign country by Bush fascists, tortured by proxy, then exhonerated and enriched by the bastion of virtue, Canada”.)
The narrative has one tragic flaw: the Americans’ suspicion of Arar as a radical and a danger seem to me to have been legitimate. Here are the salient facts that force me to give the US authorities the benefit of the doubt in rejecting him in 2002 and continuing to hold him under suspicion today:
- Arar was close personal friends with Abdullah Almalki, who in the 1990s worked directly for Osama Bin Laden’s personal fundraiser “Al Kanadi”, the notorious Ahmed Said Khadr.
- After leaving Khadr’s “Human Concern International” terror fundraising front, Mr. Almalki partnered with terrorist suspect Mohammed Kamal Elzahabi in the business of exporting specialized radio equipment to Pakistan and Afghanistan (many details in Saturday’s Globe & Mail expose.)
- Mr. Almalki and Mr. Elzahabi were both in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Mr. Elzahabi admits to having met many key Al Qaeda leaders during that time, including the lovely Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, admitted murderer of thousands. Elzahabi was shot in the gut fighting in the Afghanistan civil war in the 1990s, then after recovering in the US, went to Chechnya to continue fighting the Jihad. Maher Arar has never explained a gap in his own personal timeline from 1993, except to the Syrian jailers who allegedly tortured him.
- Maher Arar’s lawyer, Lorne Waldman, does not deny that Arar knew Mohammed Kamal Elzahabi – only that Maher “doesn’t recall” knowing him (nice “Clintonian” there, Waldman – and way to bury the lead, Globe & Mail). Also, he freely admits that Maher Arar had his car fixed at Elzahabi’s brother’s garage in Montreal.
- With a BA in Computer Engineering from McGill, a Master’s in Telecommunications Technology from INRS, and with access to the most advanced military engineering software in the world through his consulting work at The Mathworks , Arar’s connection to Al Qaeda-linked radio technology exporters to Pakistan and Afghanistan made him a risk that American security agencies were not prepared to live with after 9/11.
- When the RCMP turned up the heat on their “Project A-O” in January 2002, the main suspects – Almalki and Ahmad El Maati – had fled the country. Maher Arar also happened to be away in Tunisia at the time, after suddnely walking away from his career with Mathworks in Boston.
- When the RCMP asked Arar for an interview upon his return to Canada, he “lawyered up” with one of Ottawa’s highest-profile defense attorneys, Michael Edelson, who also was principal lawyer for the lovely Chuck Guite.
- After failing to come to an agreement with the RCMP on terms of an interview, Arar and his family left Canada for a long-term Tunisian vacation (details in the Ottawa Citizen’s comprehensive Arar report from December 2006).
- Presumably to do some consulting again for Mathworks, Arar attempted to enter the US via a connecting flight from Switzerland. Given his risk profile, the US authorities decided they did not want him around in North America anymore.
Just a year after the terrorist attack that changed the world, I believe America had the right to not take a chance on Maher Arar anymore. I also believe that Canadian authorities have plenty of info on him that they are unwilling to expose.
Further, I believe that Stephen Harper’s apology and payout were primarily politically motivated. Harper is a supreme political calculator, and saw two things in front of him: a brick wall in the way of pursuing Arar (thanks to the O’Connor report’s “exoneration”) and a great opportunity to kick the Liberals further into the gutter (the delicious chance to show the country once again how grossly negligent the Liberal Party had been, and have the Liberals applaud it!).
As with all my Arar posts, here is my disclaimer: I have nothing personally against Maher Arar, and I wish him nothing but the best if he is indeed innocent. But by bashing the US and Canadian governments for years in a very public manner, he made himself a public figure and after accepting over $10 million of our tax dollars, a subject for intense public scrutiny. All I want to know is the truth.