Denmark shows the world how to deport terrorists: Canada should listen

A nation state has a right and a duty to send terrorists back to countries seeking their extradition.

A nation state has a right and a duty to send terrorists back to countries seeking their extradition.

For many years when I was a senior strategic intelligence analyst at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), I was involved in a process in Canada that went by the name of ‘National Security Certificates’. These were cases in which the Canadian government sought to remove a person deemed a risk to national security to his or her (but I only seem to recall males) country. It is important to know here that none of these individuals were Canadian citizens and hence had no right to stay in Canada.

But, because the countries to which we tried to send these men back to had questionable human rights records, the government was unable to carry out its desired action. Concerns over possible mistreatment, combined with ‘fan clubs’ that arose surrounding these people, ended up creating a situation where none were ever deported, despite clear intelligence that they all had engaged in terrorism in their homelands and hence had no place in Canada.

As an aside, the fact that the information proving these persons’ terrorist ties was largely derived from secret intelligence really complicated these cases. Intelligence could not be shared with the human rights lawyers who offered to defend them and in the end the cases all fell apart. To say this was frustrating from a CSIS and CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) perspective does not even get close to the reality we lived.

What this all showed is that Canada was incapable of using the information its own agencies collected, as well as data shared by foreign partners, to achieve the very simple act of getting rid of men whom we did not want. It must be stressed that removals occur on a daily basis in Canada and for the life of me I cannot fathom why this handful of instances garnered so much attention as well as support from well-intentioned but woefully naive fellow citizens.

Maybe we should learn from Denmark.

In 2019 that country punted Said Mansour, who had taken part in a terrorist attack in Casablanca in 2003 in which 45 Moroccans were killed, back to his native land. He had ended up in Denmark where he acquired citizenship and became known as the ‘Bookseller from Bronsoj’ (Bronsoj is part of the capital, Copenhagen).

The Danes went so far as to strip him of his Danish citizenship, a first for that country. They also got assurances from the Moroccans that he would not be executed for his role in the 2003 slaughter. When he arrived back in Morocco he was immediately sent to prison for life.

Just as in Canada, he had his cheering section in Denmark. His lawyer stated that if he had received capital punishment back home Denmark would have violated his human rights. Except that he was not killed: he merely got what he deserved.

Canada had received similar assurances in the national security certificate cases from nations such as Algeria and Egypt. And yet we did nothing. Nada. The men we identified as terrorists are still here: for the record, their names are Mohamed Harkat, Hassan Almrei, Mohamed Mahjoub, Mahmoud Jaballah, and Adil Charkaoui.

The Government of Canada issues a security certificate only in exceptional circumstances where the information to determine the case cannot be disclosed without endangering the safety of a person (for example, by putting a witness’ life in danger) or national security (for example, by revealing investigation techniques).

Public Safety Canada

So why can Denmark get a promise from a country like Morocco, accept it, carry out a deportation, see that justice is done and Canada can’t? Does a nation not have a sovereign right to determine whom we want to take in as immigrants and potential new citizens? If not, we can save a tonne of money by closing all our embassies and consulates abroad and fire everyone at CBSA, opening our borders to everyone.

Would anyone really be ok with that? No border security? No vetting of immigrants? I didn’t think so.

Maybe I should just move to Denmark and work for their security service (the PET – a very good service by the way).

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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