A federal Canadian tribunal has been told that a Toronto man was trying to hatch a terrorist conspiracy to attack the U.S. consulate and other buildings in Toronto’s financial district.
Jahanzeb Malik was arrested March 9 and taken into custody by the Canada Border Service Agency. The government has initiated a bid to deport him to his home country of Pakistan, and has not charged him with criminal offences.
Mr. Malik’s detention hearing started Wednesday morning. The hearing is giving the government its first opportunities to air the allegations against him.
Representing Canada’s immigration ministry, Jessica Lourenco told the Immigration and Refugee Board that counterterrorism police launched an investigation against Mr. Malik starting last September.
An undercover agent was assigned to investigate Mr. Malik. The officer’s cover story was that he was a home contractor who had served years ago as a fighter in the Bosnian war.
Ms. Lourenco told the tribunal that the government has evidence that Mr. Malik told the undercover officer that he wanted to explode a bomb at the U.S. consulate or in the downtown financial district of Toronto.
“Mass destruction or possibly the loss of life would have been the result,” she said.
She also alleged Mr. Malik has claimed to the undercover officer that he went to Libya for terrorist training and that he was in contact with Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American terrorism suspect who had been living in Yemen. Mr. Al-Awlaki was killed in 2011 by a missile strike from a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency drone.
Mr. Malik allegedly told the undercover agent he supported aims of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.
Ms. Lourenco said Mr. Malik showed the undercover agent videos of Islamic State executing and sometimes beheading captives. He is alleged to have said that he supported January’s Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.
The allegations have not been proven.
The tribunal heard that Mr. Malik arrived to Canada on a student visa in April, 2004, to attend York University. He married and got permanent residence status in 2009.
The tribunal also heard that Mr. Malik faced two previous criminal charges: one in 2006 for allegedly using fraudulent credit cards, and one in 2012 for allegedly assaulting his wife. Both times, he got a conditional discharge.
Earlier this week, one of Mr. Malik’s lawyers told The Globe and Mail that his client had been complaining of harassment by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
It is unclear why the government has decided to put Mr. Malik before a deportation tribunal instead of charging him with criminal offences under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Immigration and Refugee Board member Mary Lou Funsten ruled Monday to deny Mr. Malik bail.
IRB hearings can take months to weigh cases in which the government alleges that individuals are inadmissible to Canada for reasons of national security. Periodic detention reviews determine whether suspects can stay jailed as such cases move forward. A similar IRB case was launched against a Pakistani man last October and is ongoing.