[project_threadbare] Six More Men Released: Student Pilot Weeps With Relief

An immigration tribunal released the pilot, Anwar-Ur-Rehman
Mohammed, 31, on $25,000 bail after ministry counsel Stephanie MacKay announced that security allegations had been dropped against the native of Hyderabad, India.

Mohammed, who attended the 30-day detention hearing via a video linkup from jail, seemed to bend over and pray as tribunal head Robert Murrant considered his release for about 10 minutes. He burst into tears after he was told he'd go free.

His case is at least the ninth where security concerns have been dropped from the file.

Ten others have been taken out of the public forum, presumably because they have now become private, refugee-claim matters.

But a lawyer for nine of the 21 suspects caught up in the mid-August terrorism dragnet — including some of the refugee claimants — says national security concerns are no longer an element in any of the Project Thread files.

"The whole thing is coming undone," said lawyer Tariq Shah. "They're dropping the security concerns from all of the men."

Immigration Minister Denis Coderre told reporters in Ottawa
yesterday he would not comment on Mohammed's case, even though he represented a key link in the faltering Thread probe.

"This is a case where I'm not going to intervene because there's already a process," Coderre said.

"But every time that we have enough ground to act, we're doing (that) in consequence. ... I feel that my officials did the right thing by doing what they've done and we'll let the inquiry go through." Immigration department spokesperson Giovanna Gatti would not say yesterday how many of the Project Thread suspects have had security-
threat allegations dropped from their files, but said the cases are ongoing.

Of those heard publicly so far, investigations have "alleviated" any security concerns, Gatti said.

But she said the department was not in error bringing the original security charges. "We had reasonable suspicion, (and) whenever you have reasonable suspicion it is our duty to investigate."

Mohammed was one of three probe suspects told they would be released yesterday. Fahim Kayani was ordered released on a $2,000 performance bond, while Jahan Sawnhey was let go on a $5,000 cash bond.

A pharmacist whose wife and child remain in India, Mohammed was a key suspect in the Thread probe, with his Pickering overflights and incomplete pilot training conjuring up comparisons to 9/11 terrorist plotters.

Federal officials are now relying on far more commonplace
immigration violations to prosecute the probe suspects, 20 of them Pakistanis and all Muslim.

Mohammed arrived in Canada three years ago in hopes, he said, of obtaining a commercial pilot's licence. His flight path on several occasions, investigators said, took him over the Pickering plant.

But experts told the Star that small planes regularly fly over the lakeside nuclear plant and that Mohammed's routes were nothing unusual.

Mohammed has been in protective custody at the maximum-security Maplehurst Correctional Centre in Milton for 43 days and will probably be released today, his lawyer said.

Muslim groups and opposition parties in Ottawa were quick yesterday to call on the federal government to launch an inquiry into the case, saying that it contained egregious elements of racial profiling, poor investigational protocols and human rights violations.

"There is some serious explaining to do and a committee of
Parliament should be taking this up," said federal NDP Leader Jack Layton, who characterized the round-ups as the result of faulty federal security legislation brought in after 9/11.

"If we don't nip this kind of activity in the bud, it simply swoops people up off the street with no good reason, leaves them with a tarnished reputation, traumatized and with major personal and family setbacks." He warned that such sweeps could alienate the entire Muslim community. […]

Tarek Fatah, of the Muslim Canadian Congress, said he sees Project Thread as "a very serious error" made in trying to placate U.S. security officials.

He said any inquiry should look into the role the RCMP played in the probe, which distanced itself from the security allegations only on Aug. 27.

Stop the detentions! Defend civil liberties!

Community rally
Saturday, September 27
Immigration & Refugee Board offices
74 Victoria Street
(east of Yonge, north of Adelaide)