UPDATE: Abousfian Abdelrazik shouted for joy when he learned he had been removed from a UN Security Council terrorist list, his lawyer said late Wednesday.
"He shouted and I could hear tearing in the background and his children. He just said he feels like he is alive again and has his life back finally," Paul Champ said.
"He was incredibly excited and relieved after five years of being branded a terrorist unfairly by the UN."
It is now up to the federal cabinet to remove the sanctions that have frozen his assets in Canada — something, Champ said, he hopes they will do "very quickly."
Abdelrazik's lawyer told HuffPost he's not certain they'll drop their Charter challenge against the Federal Government regarding the 1267 UN sanctions even though his client is now off the list. "Anyone who had helped Mr. Abdelrazik over the last couple of years could be prosecuted. Hundreds of Canadians from across the country donated money to assist him in flying back to Canada and they are all still at risk of prosecution even though Mr. Abdelrazik is de-listed. So we are going to have to take a hard look at what else we can do about that."
A Montreal man once accused of having ties to terrorists is being de-listed from a United Nations security blacklist, The Huffington Post has learned.
“It's going to be huge," Abousfian Abdelrazik's lawyer Paul Champ said Wednesday. "It’s going to have a huge impact on his life. Not only of the day to day living, and being able to freely spend and receive money, but it will also take away the stigma that he has been living under."
Abdelrazik was placed on the UN Security Council’s Al Qaeda sanctions list in 2006 after a request by the United States.
At the time, Abdelrazki was in Sudan where he had been arrested in 2003, he believes on the behest of Canadian authorities, while visiting his ailing mother. He was released without any charges being laid. Abdelrazki claims he was beaten and tortured while in Sudanese custody and that he was questioned there by Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents.
The Sudanese government wanted him out of the country but Abdelrazki’s presence on an international no-fly list made commercial travel impossible. Canada refused to bring him home on a government aircraft. In addition, officials would not provide him with a travel document, choosing instead to let him live in the embassy in Khartoum for more than a year before a Federal Court judge, in 2009, ruled Abdelrazki’s Charter rights had been breached and ordered that the federal government facilitate his return back to the country.
Although Justice Russel Zinn noted in his judgment that there was no evidence that Abdelrazik was affiliated with Al Qaeda, the Montrealer still lives under a cloud of suspicion and strict conditions laid out by the UN’s “1267” sanctions list. His assets are frozen, he can’t borrow money, employers are banned from hiring him and friends who lend him money risk criminal prosecution.
“Every month, when he wants to go borrow money from the bank, they only allow him to do it one day a month and even then there is almost always a problem. He is turned away at the teller and asked to call me practically in tears,” his lawyer Paul Champ told HuffPost. “Then I have the number of the bank’s general manager who I call while Abdelrazik waits in the lobby. He calls the bank manager and they do a little something something and then he gets his one withdrawal a month. And we have to go through that stupid game almost every month.”
For the moment, two UN Security Council certificates allow Abdelrazik to collect his deceased wife’s pension and collect child-tax benefits. In addition to that, the Montrealer lives off donations. “And everyone who continues to donate money to him commits a criminal offense,” his lawyer noted.
Wednesday's decision by the 1267 committee means those restrictions are lifted, although his presence on the U.S. no-fly list still bans him from travelling to the United States and through U.S. airspace, even on domestic flights within Canada.
This is the second time, Abdelrazik has requested the UN committee de-list him. He was vetoed in 2007 and made another request earlier this year. Things appeared to be going well: a UN ombudsperson had accepted his submissions and spoken to officials in Canada, the U.S. and Sudan. Then a leaked memo was printed in a Montreal newspaper suggesting that CSIS was claiming to have intercepted a conversation in 2000 between Abdelrazik and Adil Charkaoui, a known terror suspect, in which both men discuss blowing up an airliner.
Up until then, Abdelrazik’s only known association with a suspected terrorist had been his voluntary testimony during the millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam’s trial, in which he stated that he had met Ressam at a Montreal mosque but knew nothing of his plans to blow up the Los Angeles International Airport.
The ombudsman asked for more documents and submitted her secret report to the UN committee on November 14.
Abdelrazik is currently suing the federal government over the UN Security Council's 1267 sanctions — which would be rendered moot by Wednesday's decision — as well as a $27-million lawsuit over damages for his treatment in Sudan.