Mentally ill 39-year-old Somali refugee Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan dies in custody

Jun 19, 2015

Refugee who died in immigration custody identified as Somali with mental health issues

 Hamilton Spectator

A man who died last week under mysterious circumstances while detained by Canadian immigration authorities has been identified as a mentally ill Somali refugee who had spent three years in prison with little prospect for release.

Canada Border Services Agency had refused to name 39-year-old Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan, but his family and immigration watchdog groups have publicly identified him.

Hassan, who was also a diabetic, died in the early hours of June 11 in hospital in Peterborough, Ont., where he had been taken under police escort for unspecified treatment.

The province’s special investigations unit, which has been probing the death because police were involved, said the man had become “agitated” and died after being restrained by police and medical personnel.

B.C.: Refugee family from Saudi Arabia built notorious family crime empire in Canada

B.C. parents learn hard $170,000 lesson in breeding ‘family crime empire’

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 | June 11, 2015 10:56 PM ET
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The family’s fourth son, Mahmoud Alkhalil, was one of three people killed in a notorious gunfight in 2003 in Vancouver’s Loft Six nightclub.

Nick Procaylo/Postmedia News/Files The family’s fourth son, Mahmoud Alkhalil, was one of three people killed in a notorious gunfight in 2003 in Vancouver’s Loft Six nightclub.

Two of their sons died in gangland shootouts, two others face drug trafficking or murder charges from mob-related incidents, and a fifth is on the run abroad. Now, their parents are learning another hard lesson in breeding a self-made crime group — they’ve lost the $170,000 they posted to have their eldest son released from jail.

Hossein Al Khalil and Soumayya Azzam were fighting in court to salvage bond money paid to have Nabil Alkhalil released. Their bond was lost when he fled Canada on a bogus passport soon after.

The judge’s ruling against them — with Nabil still a fugitive — is but one entry in an unrelenting stream of bad news involving their sons.

Toronto Police Service

Toronto Police Service Rabih Alkhalil is charged in a Vancouver hit and in a shooting at a cafe patio in Toronto’s Little Italy.

These two parents of five sons came to Canada, presumably to make a better life for themselves. Now, having buried two kids before they reached the age of 20, they have two more facing the possibility of a long time in prison,” said Sgt. Lindsey Houghton of B.C.’s Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

“The actions of these boys have destroyed that family.”

The family arrived in Canada from Saudi Arabia as refugees in 1990, although their roots are believed to be in Iran, and settled in Surrey, B.C. After two sons were killed in gangland violence, they moved to Ottawa and Montreal.

“They took all of their organized crime and gang connections with them,” said Houghton.

The couple’s second son had been the first to die.

In 2001, Khalil Alkhalil, 19, was shot dead in Surrey in a gunfight over a drug debt. His killer claimed self-defence and was freed. The shooter’s lawyer was beaten up in court by angry supporters of Alkhalil, and the shooter himself was later gunned down in Kelowna in a case that remains unsolved.

The fourth son, Mahmoud Alkhalil, was one of three people killed in a notorious gunfight in 2003 between gang rivals in Vancouver’s Loft Six nightclub. He made it out of the building, but was found bleeding and unconscious after crashing his car 20 blocks away. When he succumbed to his injuries at age 19, he already had a lengthy criminal record.

The youngest son, Rabih “Robby” Alkhalil, was only two when he came to Canada.

Palestinian gay man wants to remain in Canada

A Palestinian man who was born into a prominent family of Hamas-backers is trying to stop efforts to deport him from Canada to the West Bank, because he believes that as a gay man and a convert to Christianity, he would face certain death.

“Please help me, I don’t want to die,” wrote the man, who changed his name to John Calvin following his conversion.

 In a Sunday blog post in the Times of Israel, Calvin recounted the unlikely path to his conversion from Islam to Christianity and emphasized that if he revealed his birth name, one would know he is the scion of “one of the most pro-Hamas families in the West Bank” whose relatives have been convicted of terrorist attacks.

A petition on Change.org is asking the Canadian government to "allow John Calvin to stay." (Image source: Change.org)

A petition on Change.org is asking the Canadian government to “allow John Calvin to stay.” (Image source: Change.org)

“From as early as I can remember, I was taught that Islam was the one true faith, that violence was the only answer, and that the Jews were our enemies,” he wrote. “These were facts, as real and obvious as the fact that the sky is blue. These were ‘facts’ and deep down I wasn’t sure if I believed them.”

His journey to Christianity began in the most unexpected of places, when he was detained in an Israeli jail.

“My moment arrived in an Israeli jail, after I was arrested for illegally crossing the border, escaping from yet another argument with my family and the violence of my father. I was looking for answers to questions when and where I least expected them,” he wrote.

Comparing his experience to the conversion of Paul the Apostle on the road to Damascus, Calvin wrote, “It was in an Israeli jail where the doubts I had about everything I had ever been taught were finally silenced. Another man, a Palestinian man, hurt me in a way I could never have imagined, in a way that just isn’t talked about in our society.”

In previous interviews, Calvin said directly that he was raped by a Muslim inmate.

SYDNEY, NOVA SCOTIA: St. Joseph’s Lebanese and Syrian Benevolent Society board member says immigration key to strong economy

BRIAN RICHARD JOSEPH
Published May 15, 2015 – 4:31pm
Last Updated May 15, 2015 – 5:32pm
Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab speaks Tuesday in Halifax about a new immigration program that will target international students who have worked in Nova Scotia for at least a year. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE/Staff)

Immigration Minister Lena Metlege Diab speaks Tuesday in Halifax about a new immigration program that will target international students who have worked in Nova Scotia for at least a year. (CHRISTIAN LAFORCE/Staff)
One day recently, as my wife and I enjoyed vacation treats in “pre-invasion“ Cuba one last time before the expected inundation of U.S. tourists, we had a fortuitous meeting with two older Canadian immigrants as we strode the gorgeous shores of Varadero beach.

It was one of those casual, chance meetings that begins with small talk about the beauties of Cuba’s beaches.

This time, my wife took the conversation a little deeper, discovering not only the home cities of our new acquaintances (both lived in Ottawa), but also the fact that both had immigrated to Canada from Soviet Bloc countries in the 1960s. Sophia came from Kiev. Rosa came from Warsaw. And what stories they had to tell.

Over the next few days, my wife spent increasing amounts of time with both Sophia and Rosa, so enthralled was she with their amazing life stories and their generous willingness to share their experiences with us.

In their arduous struggle to flee hardships of life in Soviet-era Kiev and Warsaw (many families living in a single room with no running water), they epitomized the unique drive, determination and energy that is hard to duplicate outside the immigrant experience.

Nova Scotia Immigration Minister Lena Diab reminded us, in her recent address at Cape Breton University, that to immigrate is one of the most entrepreneurial acts possible.

As research at Yale University has shown, this super-determination to achieve a better life marks almost all immigrant groups. It is of so high a voltage that even second- and third-generation immigrants rarely match the energy and fierce work ethic that new immigrants bring. In many cases, immigrants have left behind the kind of harsh conditions that Sophia and Rosa escaped. And in so many other cases, as we are seeing in the current tragic exodus across the Mediterranean, immigrant refugees are fleeing horrific conditions of war, famine or brutal persecution.

Canadian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry president praises Lebanese community in Halifax

ROGER TAYLOR
Published May 14, 2015 – 5:48pm
Last Updated May 15, 2015 – 1:20pm
People from Halifax’s Lebanese community participate in the Multifest Parade in 2010. The support system built up around the family and church by Lebanese immigrants is credited for creating a strong, closely knit community. (STAFF / File)

People from Halifax’s Lebanese community participate in the Multifest Parade in 2010. The support system built up around the family and church by Lebanese immigrants is credited for creating a strong, closely knit community. (STAFF / File)

The successful settlement of Lebanese immigrants in Halifax could well be a template for effectively supporting and attracting other immigrant groups to Nova Scotia.

The support system built up around the family and church by Lebanese immigrants has resulted in a strong, closely knit community, says Norman Nahas, president of the Canadian Lebanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

With that kind of backing in place, individuals could more easily adjust to living in Canada and quickly became comfortable carving out a role for themselves in the broader Halifax community, says Nahas.

Most Nova Scotians realize that attracting new immigrants to the province and to Halifax is an important element in any economic revival.

Immigrants aren’t taking jobs, they are creating them, says Nahas.

“We’re Lebanese, but we’re Canadian by choice,” he says, quoting his father, Sam Nahas, who came to Canada when he was just 14 years old.

“We’re proud of where we come from, we’re proud of what we do here, but we’re also proud of Halifax.”

Muslim Brotherhood gripping sections of Canada’s diverse Muslim community, says U.S. security expert

Beware of the Muslim Brotherhood, expert warns

Published on: May 16, 2015
Last Updated: May 16, 2015 6:36 AM EDT

Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) stresses his group has no ties with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Authorities should be concerned about the unseen hand of the Muslim Brotherhood gripping sections of Canada’s diverse Muslim community, says a U.S. security expert.

The movement has planted its revivalist interpretation of Islam, political ideology and activism among some Muslims here and sees itself as a minder and broker between them and the rest of society, Lorenzo Vidino, who specializes in Islamism and political violence, told the Senate’s national security committee recently.

“They basically aim to be the gatekeepers to Muslim communities, that whenever politicians, governments or the media try to get the Muslim voice, if there were such a thing, they would go through them, sort of the self‑appointed leaders of Muslim communities,” he said.

Vidino is director of the program on extremism at George Washington University and author of The New Muslim Brotherhood in the West (Columbia University Press, 2010). He sees no direct links to terrorism among the group’s western supporters. In fact, some work to prevent violent radicalization, he said.

“It would be an analytical mistake to lump them, as some do, with al-Qaida or ISIL. These are not organizations that plan attacks in the West, and actually in many cases they do condemn them.”

The problem is more indirect, Vidino said. “Generally speaking, the movement has not abandoned violence as a tool to advance its agenda.” Tactically, it doesn’t pursue violence, “but it’s not heartfelt,” he said.

“They have this narrative where they lump together foreign policy issues with issues like cartoons and so on as part of a big narrative that proves this point that the West hates Muslims and Islam. It’s that mainstreaming of this narrative which is very much the staircase to violent radicalization and the brotherhood does mainstream that. It provides somewhat of a fertile environment.

“That kind of narrative in the mind a 16- or 18-year-old is extremely dangerous, because violence is justified when Muslims are under attack. If it’s OK in Gaza and Afghanistan, why is it not OK in the West, where you’re also telling me that Islam is under attack?”

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The brotherhood is a banned terrorist organization in some Middle East and other countries, notably Egypt, where the movement was born. But it has different profile in the West.

To start, there is no group calling itself the “Muslim Brotherhood” in North America. Instead, a few hundred sophisticated, politically savvy and well-funded supporters in Canada have over the past 50 years created vocal and visible organizations that represent a very small part of the Muslim community. They exert a disproportional influence over mosques, schools and spaces where Muslims come together, said Vidino.

While they don’t take orders from any Arab capital, they “are part of an informal network where you have strong links based on personal and financial connections, and at the end of the day what matters the most: ideology. They all embrace a certain world view.”

Groups sometimes go to great lengths to sever or hide such ties, Vidino told the committee. He said they include the Muslim Association of Canada and what used to be called CAIR-CAN, now the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

Another group he identified is The International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy – Canada, IRFAN. Its charitable status was revoked after the government alleged the organization sent almost $15 million to groups affiliated with the Palestinian terror outfit Hamas between 2005 and 2009. IRFAN has since been listed as a banned terrorist organization in Canada.

Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the NCCM, said Vidino is misinformed.

“The NCCM is an independent, non-partisan and non-profit grassroots Canadian civil liberties and advocacy organization with a public track record spanning 15 years,” said Gardee. “The NCCM is not a religious group and does not and has never had any affiliations, links, ideological or of any other kind, with the Muslim Brotherhood or any other overseas group.”

The Muslim Association of Canada did not respond to a request for comment. But its website traces its roots to the teachings of Egyptian Hassan al-Banna, who founded the brotherhood in 1928 to revive and integrate traditional Islamic teaching and practices, such as sharia law, with modern society.