Ordered deported in '88, terrorist still in Brantford
Jul 16, 2008 04:02 PM
The Hamilton Spectator
BRANTFORD–A convicted terrorist ordered deported from Canada two decades ago is still living with his family in a modest semi-detached bungalow in Brantford.
Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad made international headlines in 1968 when he and an accomplice attacked an Israeli commercial airliner at the airport in Athens. They killed one passenger and destroyed the plane in a failed escape bid.
Nineteen years and several countries later, Mohammad entered Canada after lying about his terrorist past. Immigration Canada caught him and ordered him deported in December 1988.
But appeal after appeal has delayed his expulsion, and there's no indication the man who describes himself as a Palestinian freedom fighter will be going anywhere soon.
On Dec. 15, 1988, an immigration adjudicator ruled Mohammad should be expelled from the country because he had concealed his role in a politically motivated attack on a jetliner at the Athens airport on Dec. 26, 1968, with 50 passengers and crew aboard.
Under orders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the then-25-year-old guerrilla fighter and another man hurled grenades and sprayed the plane with machine-gun fire.
An Israeli passenger was killed when hit by shrapnel.
Mohammad and his accomplice were arrested at the airport. In 1970, a Greek court convicted Mohammad of manslaughter and other charges, sentencing him to 17 years in jail.
He was freed a few months later after another Palestinian terrorist group hijacked a plane and threatened to kill the passengers unless the government released Mohammad.
After being pardoned by Greece, Mohammad lived in different parts of the Middle East, including Lebanon, where he married his wife in 1976.
The couple spent a few months in Cyprus in the 1980s until he was barred from re-entering the country for security reasons in 1984 – something he didn't mention to Canadian authorities.
In his application for residency to Canada in 1987, Mohammad denied being convicted of any crime.
He also claimed no involvement in any political organization since he was 18 years old. In fact, he had been a card-carrying member for years of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – a militant group dedicated to an armed struggle against Israel.
As a result of these lies and omissions, he was ordered deported in 1988. But Mohammad forestalled his removal by applying for refugee status.
Through seemingly inexhaustible avenues of appeal and due process of law, he has staved off deportation to Lebanon.
Not only is this man an embarrassment to this country's refugee system he illustrates everything wrong with it. Chief among them is the appeals process and the legal professionals who fashioned it to give them work under the auspices, I imagine, of due process and human rights and all that. How is this man able to stave off deportation for so long? How much Canadian tax payer money has been wasted just to remove this dishonest and violent man?
We cannot let this man stay. If we do then we reward his dishonesty of which his family has been complicit with and benefited from. We send a message to all criminals and terrorists in the world to come to Canada becuase if this man can get away with it then so can you. Besides, we have no problem with removing Nazi war criminals who have lived a peaceful life in Canada for several years let alone U.S. war deserters. Why should Mr. Mohammad be an exception? Recall he lied to get into the country and when caught some twenty years ago he was ordered to leave. Also recall that he willingly killed an innocent person. What about this individual's family? How would they like to know that Canada has been providing Mr. Mohammad and his family with a relatively comfortable life after he evaded justice because of an act of terrorism and threats of violence. He is still in Canada because he is abusing the due process of the legal system and, just as important, because of public ignorance which is why it is good the Star published this story, reminding Canadians how dysfunctional their nation's immigration and refugee system is.
We also need to reform the appeals process so that this sort of abuse stops. There has been some discussion that the refugee determination process takes too long but this seems to work in the claimant's favour (not to mention the immigration lawyer's wallet). It seems the longer you are here the harder it is for Canada to deport you. There should be a limit to the number of appeals and when reached the individual should be removed immediately. We cannot make allowances. If we do then we set precedence ripe for abuse and this take us back to right where we started.