A Palestinian terrorist who fought the Canadian government’s attempts to expel him for 26 years was finally deported to Lebanon on the weekend aboard a flight chartered by the Canada Border Services Agency.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced the deportation of Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad, a former Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine member, in Ottawa on Monday.
The case of the terrorist known to some as “Triple M” had become symbolic of the flaws in Canada’s immigration system, often cited as an example of the government’s inability to control its own borders.
Despite being convicted of destroying an El Al passenger plane in Athens in 1968 and killing an Israeli passenger, Mohammad immigrated to Canada in 1987 by concealing his past. Ottawa informed him in December 1987 he would be deported, but he fended off the efforts by filing appeal after appeal in the courts.
“It really was a thorn in our side, much like some of the known Nazi war criminals who were able to dodge the system,” said Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. “There was just something glaringly unjust about his ability to take advantage of everything that Canada had to offer even though he had blood on his hands.”
Following a last flurry of court appeals , Mohammad’s legal odyssey recently reached its end. Mr. Kenney said measures introduced by the Conservative government would help ensure such a delay did not recur.
“This convicted terrorist was able to use numerous and repetitive appeals and loopholes under Canada’s old, broken immigration system to remain in Canada for 25 years. Fortunately, since 2006, the government has acted to strengthen the integrity of Canada’s immigration system,” Mr. Kenney said in a statement.
After joining the PFLP at age 25, Mohammad underwent a month of military training before he was sent to Greece to take part in a terrorist attack. On Boxing Day, 1968, he and an accomplice stormed a Boeing 707 as it was readying for takeoff. They fired 83 rounds at the plane and lobbed six grenades, killing one passenger. Mohammad was caught and sentenced to 17 years in prison, but in 1970, he was freed after Palestinian terrorists hijacked a Greek airliner and threatened to blow it up unless he was released.
Mohammad moved to Cyprus and then traveled to Spain, where he applied to immigrate to Canada. Together with his wife and three children, he applied to immigrate to Canada but failed to inform authorities he had been convicted of a terrorist crime.
By the time Canadian authorities caught up with him, he was already in Canada. Late in 1987, he was told he would be deported — a decision upheld by an immigration adjudicator ruled in December 1988.
But Mohammad then applied for refugee status and, although his claim was rejected, he remained in Canada while his appeals were heard by the courts. Some of his more recent appeals argued he could not be deported because his health was bad and the Lebanese medical system was inadequate.
By Stewart Bell – The National Post