NCCM CALLS FOR COMPENSATION, ACCOUNTABILITY FROM CANADA’S NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCIES AFTER CANADA’S COMPLICITY IN THE TORTURE OF A MUSLIM IN GUANTANAMO BAY
(Ottawa – April 23, 2022)
Yesterday, a devastating statement of claim was filed that alleged that the Canadian government and our national security agencies were complicit in torture.
NCCM supports Mr. Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s filing of a statement of claim asking for compensation and apologies from Canadian security agencies for their role in his rendition to Guantanamo Bay, where he was detained and tortured for 14 years without being charged with any crime.
“It is difficult to figure out what are the most painful parts of this case, where Canada was complicit in the torture of an innocent Canadian permanent resident. Mr. Slahi was tortured because the Canadian government and our national security agencies were fine with throwing people away based on Islamophobic stereotypes, plain and simple,” said Mustafa Farooq, CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.
“One of the most troubling aspects of this case is that it was only in 2021, through American sources, not Canadian ones, that the truth about the degree of Canadian complicity in Mr. Slahi’s torture became clear. The fact that our national security agencies continue to be run by leaders who are not only comfortable with complicity in torture, but refuse to disclose critical information to Canadians, demands accountability.”
Mr. Slahi has launched a lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada for, amongst other things, falsely accusing him of being part of the 1999 Millennium Plot by terrorists to blow up the LA International Airport.
His case and journey, documented at length in the recent film The Mauritanian (2021), featuring Jodie Foster, as well as his acclaimed memoir (written in Guantanamo Bay) Guantanamo Diary (2015), are representative of so many unfortunate Muslim narratives across the world, including in Canada and the United States, involving those swept up in the War on Terror thanks to racial profiling and institutional Islamophobia.
Originally from Mauritania, Mr. Slahi was living as a permanent resident in Montreal, Quebec in the winter of 1999. Canadian authorities profiled Slahi based on his race, religion and ethnicity during his time in Canada, singling him out for scrutiny because of his attendance at a mosque in the Parc Extension neighbourhood of Montreal, which happens to be in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Papineau riding.
After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Mr. Slahi, like many during those immediate years of the War on Terror, would be subject to nightmarish levels of mistreatment. The CIA orchestrated for him to be kidnapped from Mauritania to Jordan via extraordinary rendition. He would suffer torture there for months before being taken to the notorious Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, and then finally to Guantanamo Bay in 2002. He would suffer various forms of torture and violence until his release in 2016.
In Guantanamo, Mr. Slahi suffered physical, psychological, and sexual torture. The claim alleges that Canadian authorities were complicit throughout this tragic ordeal. They created and shared flawed “intelligence” about Mr. Slahi that contributed to his detention and torture. Canadian officials received and used false information from the US that was obtained through their torture of Mr. Slahi. CSIS agents even travelled to Guantanamo Bay to interrogate Mr. Slahi in person.
The claim alleges that Canada knew this mistreatment was happening and continued to collaborate with Mr. Slahi’s American interrogators and condone his torture. In other words, Canadian authorities, much like their involvement in the case of Maher Arar, were involved in every step of Mr. Slahi’s tortuous journey.
The claim notes that in 2021, an FBI agent credited with foiling the Millennium Plot stated publicly that Canadian authorities “exaggerated the importance” of evidence they shared with the result that US interrogators became “obsessed” with false accusations shared by the Canadians. Mr. Slahi was then tortured based on this flawed “intelligence”. Mr. Slahi’s false confession, which he signed after months of torture personally approved by US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, was based in part on false information originally provided by Canadian security agencies.