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   Vol. 67/No. 37           October 27, 2003  
Ottawa backs off ‘terrorism’ accusations
TORONTO—“We have done nothing wrong,” said Fahim Kayani. “They have no evidence to say we are terrorists.” The Pakistani immigrant, 28, was speaking at a rally on September 27, hours after his release from jail. Seventy people attended the event, organized by the Project Threadbare coalition in defense of Kayani and 20 other men arrested on accusations of “terrorist” activity in August and September. Rally organizers reported that 11 of the men had been freed on bail.

Kayani said that in his predawn arrest on August 14, the cops had smashed down his apartment door and dragged him from bed at gunpoint.

Referring to the “terrorism” allegations, Tariq Shah, the lawyer for nine of the men, told the media, “the whole thing is coming undone. They’re dropping the security concerns from all of the men.” The September 26 Toronto Star reported that a number still face the threat of deportation under charges of immigration violations.

Along with 19 other men from Pakistan and one from India, Kayani was arrested and jailed under Project Thread, the so-called “terrorist dragnet.”

The predawn raids were carried out under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which gives the government the power to detain indefinitely any foreign national deemed a threat to “national security.” Immigration officials said the men had exhibited “a pattern of suspicious behavior,” including the fact that many were from Pakistan’s Punjab province, which the officials said was “noted for Sunni extremism,” and their practice of living in groups of four or five.

They also said the men were enrolled at the Ottawa Business College. At the September 27 rally, Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress said that the police had seized 400 files from the college, whose director has admitted to selling phony diplomas and enrollment letters. He added, “Why is it that the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service investigated only those files at the business school belonging to people who happened to be brown, Pakistani, and Muslim?”

To their now discredited list of accusations, officials added the claim that one of the arrested men, Muhammed Anwar Ur Rehman—a student pilot at the Durham Flight Center—had flown over the Pickering nuclear plant outside of Toronto. The route is regularly used in the training of students.

One week before Kayani’s release, 200 people attended a protest meeting organized by Project Threadbare at the University of Toronto. Muhammed Naeem, a 34-year old doctor from Pakistan who was one of the first of the men to be released from jail, said that the arresting cops had held a gun to his head. “Some of us were beaten in jail,” he said.

Amina Sherazee, a lawyer, told the meeting that “these assaults against the civil liberties of foreign nationals today are what will be done to Canadian citizens tomorrow if we don’t resist the racist policies of the Canadian government.”  
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