Mohamed Harkat should have been sent back to his native Algeria decades ago: why is he still here?

Every nation has a right to determine who enters their borders and who does not. No country has a free-for-all immigration system, and for good reasons. After all, who wants to allow criminals and ne’erdowells into our land?

How about terrorists?

Mohamed Harkat came to Canada way back in 1995 from Pakistan, where he had been living since he fled his native Algeria. According to the Canadian government Mr. Harkat is – or was – a member of Al Qaeda and a ‘sleeper agent’ and hence has no right to be here. It has been trying to remove him since 2002.

I am not at all neutral in this matter. I worked on the Harkat case while at CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and testified for the Crown (the prosecution in Canada) both in camera and in public. I believe strongly that he represents a threat to national security and should be removed.

Mr. Harkat was one of five Muslim men we saw as threats and none of which have been punted from Canada (in fact at least one has been granted Canadian citizenship!). These cases have gone on for decades with no resolution. I cannot fathom how much this has cost Joe Q Taxpayer.


Mr. Harkat’s supporters, of which there are many, maintain that he is not a terrorist – no surprise there – and that if he is deported to Algeria he will be tortured. These people are missing a fundamental point. Mr. Harkat was deemed inadmissible from the outset and should never have been allowed here to begin with. Had the solid intelligence we possessed been available when he gained a toehold in Canada he would have been turned around immediately. That he has been able to avoid this fate for two decades does not make the case against him any weaker.

He is now complaining that he cannot get funding – at government (i.e. taxpayer) expense – to hire the lawyer he wants to prevent his removal. Apparently, one lawyer and one lawyer only, can do that for him. Hence we should open our wallets – again! – to help this man our government knows to be a terrorist. Not! At least the government has had the good sense to deny his request.

I repeat: Canada has a right to say yea or nay on whom we deign to become Canadians. Hundreds of thousands (millions?) apply every year. The vast majority are denied. Why is Mr. Harkat any different? Because he is already here? Because he has convinced a group of Canadians that he is not a terrorist? Because that same group thinks CSIS – and by extension me – is lying?


If some are concerned about his life in Algeria, figure out a way to stay in touch. If this man is allowed to remain and, horror of horrors!, becomes a citizen eventually the whole immigration system becomes a mockery. We might as well fire all the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) officers, declare a border-free zone and put up a ‘for sale’ sign at CSIS.

We will in effect have caved on any means to protect ourselves.

Phil Gurski
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