MONTREAL - Allegations a Montreal man plotted to blow up an airliner are aimed in part at derailing his fight to get off a UN terror watchlist, says his lawyer.
Montreal La Presse reported Friday it had obtained documents from Canada's spy agency that allege Adil Charkaoui and Abousfian Abdelrazik talked about detonating explosives on a flight between Montreal and France.
Paul Champ, Abdelrazik's lawyer, noted the timing of the report is particularly delicate for his client, who's trying to accomplish the rare feat of having his name cleared from a United Nations blacklist.
He said the UN Security Council is deliberating on whether to remove Abdelrazik from the 1267 watchlist, which alleges the Sudanese-born man trained as a terrorist in Afghanistan and was an acquaintance of Osama bin Laden.
"We expect a decision by the end of this month," Champ said of Abdelrazik's UN Security Council case.
"So, right at this sensitive time, this information is leaked to the press.
"In our view, it's a transparent attempt to undermine Mr. Abdelrazik's petition."
Abdelrazik, whose name was added to the blacklist in 2006, has already been formally cleared by CSIS and the RCMP of terrorist allegations.
La Presse says the document indicates the men discussed a plan to blow up an airplane by detonating explosives hidden inside key chains during a flight from Montreal to France.
The report says the information comes from a CSIS transcript of the alleged conversation, even though the spy agency would not comment on its authenticity due to security concerns.
The newspaper says CSIS intercepted the "encrypted" conversation in the summer of 2000.
For Abdelrazik's legal team, it was the first they had heard about these allegations, Champ said.
Both he and Charkaoui's lawyer, Johanne Doyon, believe the matter was settled in January 2008, when a federal court concluded that similar allegations against Charkaoui were unproven.
Doyon said she was shocked these latest allegations have surfaced.
"It's very unfair that this comes back like it's new evidence," she said.
"This method of leaks is good for dictatorships in certain countries."
The allegations against Charkaoui reported in La Presse are different from the allegations in a CSIS leak that a federal judge deemed unfounded in 2008.
Those allegations said Charkaoui had a conversation in June 2000 with two others about their apparent desire to hijack a commercial plane for aggressive purposes.
Canada's immigration minister reacted to the newspaper report Friday, though he declined to comment on any specific intelligence about Abdelrazik or Charkaoui.
"When the government takes the position that someone should be under a security certificate or that a Canadian overseas is on the UN no-fly list because of suspected membership in al-Qaida, when we take such positions, it's not based on a hunch, it's not based on innuendo, it's not based on speculation; it's based on very robust intelligence," Jason Kenney said in a conference call from Bangkok, Thailand.
"And Canada only takes such measures against such individuals when it believes that they constitute a real threat to national security."
Both Charkaoui and Abdelrazik have been waging public battles to clear their names after authorities accused them of having links to terrorism. They are also seeking financial compensation in separate multimillion-dollar lawsuits.
Abdelrazik is suing the Canadian government for $27 million, while Charkaoui is seeking $24.5 million from Ottawa in his own lawsuit.
Abdelrazik was kept in forced exile in Sudan for six years, part of which was spent in jail where he alleges he was tortured.
Since returning to Canada, he has been unable to have his name removed from the UN terror list and continues to face sanctions here: he cannot earn a paycheque or accept material support from anyone.
The Moroccan-born Charkaoui was arrested in 2003 under a national security certificate for suspected terrorist links. He was set free in 2009 after the case collapsed and the certificate was quashed.