Charkaoui told CSIS about jihad recruiting

2001 Interview

Graeme Hamilton,  National Post  Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MONTREAL - In a previously undisclosed interview with CSIS investigators,
alleged al-Qaeda sleeper agent Adil Charkaoui described how members of
Montreal's Arab community were recruiting people for jihad before 9/11.

"Charkaoui explained that many are called but few are chosen. It's a funnel
effect," according to a summary of the April, 2001, interview with the
Canadian Security Intelligence Service, just added to the court record.

"The person responsible for recruitment attends certain nerve centres, such
as mosques. Someone whom the recruiter considers to have potential will be
invited to meetings where he will be exposed to certain activities having to
do with jihad. The person is tested. If any flaw is detected related to the
security that he must respect to participate in jihad activities, he will be
expelled from the group immediately."

Nowhere in the interview does Mr. Charkaoui admit to participatingin the
recruitment effort, but his comments reveal a depth of knowledge about the
goings-on within Montreal's extremist community.

Mr. Charkaoui, a Moroccan citizen who came to Montreal in 1995, was arrested
two years after the interview on suspicion of belonging to al-Qaeda. He has
denied any involvement in terrorism and is contesting his removal from
Canada on a federal security certificate that declared him a danger to
national security. Mr. Charkaoui said he came to know Abdellah Ouzghar, a
former Montrealer who is facing extradition to France after being convicted
in absentia of terrorism charges, at Montreal's Assunah (or Al

Mr. Ouzghar attended the mosque regularly and worked at promoting jihad
among those attending prayers. "Charkaoui specified that he disagrees with
this way of acting," the interview summary says.

"According to Charkaoui, Ouzghar is someone who is very direct in his
dealings with others, which explains his tendency to want to convert lots of
people all over the place. Charkaoui, for his part, favours a more nuanced
and targeted approach." He reported that videos promoting jihad were
available for rental at Assunah.

The CSIS investigators spent much of the interview probing Mr. Charkaoui's
familiarity with suspected Islamic extremists in Montreal, and he had
crossed paths with many of them.

He said he knew Raouf Hannachi from another Montreal mosque, Alqods.
Hannachi, who is suspected of having recruited failed millennium bomber
Ahmed Ressam, was arrested in Tunisia in 2003 on terrorism charges.

Mr. Charkaoui said he was aware that Abousofian Abdelrazik, who in 2006
would be added to a U.S. list of designated terrorists, worked as a healer
in the local Muslim community.

Mr. Charkaoui was also asked about Hisham Tahir, whose name surfaced last
year in a La Presse story as someone with whom Mr. Charkaoui had allegedly
discussed a plot to highjack a commercial airliner in June, 2000. Last
Friday, Federal Court Justice Simon Noel, who is hearing Mr. Charkaoui's
security certificate case, ordered La Presse reporters to disclose who
leaked the confidential CSIS report at the source of their story.

In the April, 2001, interview, Mr. Charkaoui described Mr. Tahir as "a very
good friend." He said, like Mr. Ouzghar, Mr. Tahir had the bad habit of
talking too much. "Charkaoui said he had warned Tahir several times not to
speak openly about activities related to jihad," the summary says. He
declined to confirm to the CSIS agents whether Mr. Tahir had trained in an
al-Qaeda camp in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

In a previously released CSIS interview, conducted three days after 9/11,
"Charkaoui did not want to swear to never having been witness to a
conversation dealing with plots to commit terrorist attacks, including the
possibility of blowing up a plane."

Mr. Charkaoui concluded the April, 2001, interview by accusing Canadian
authorities of creating a climate of paranoia among Montreal Arabs.
"According to Charkaoui, several individuals from the local extremist
movement feel persecuted and watched."

Still, he said he did not believe extremists would attack Canadian targets.

CSIS uncovered the record of the interview just last month. A CSIS official
called to testify before Judge Noel this month said it was the result of an
"administrative or transcription error" and that the agency would ensure it
did not happen again.

Mr. Charkaoui's lawyer, Johanne Doyon, did not return a message seeking

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