A Palestinian terrorist who attacked an El Al jet in Athens and then lied about his criminal past to get into Canada has lost a major fight in his eight-year struggle to remain here.
A two-member panel of the Immigration and Refugee Board took more than two years to reach last Friday’s ruling that the 52-year-old stateless Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad is not eligible to remain in Canada as a refugee.
Mohammad, who has been living in Brantford, Ontario, one hour west of Toronto, will be deported soon — unless he successfully challenges the refugee board’s decision in Federal Court.
Mohammad and an accomplice, Maher Suleiman, attacked and destroyed an El Al Boeing 707 jet on Dec. 26, 1968, in Athens, killing an Israeli passenger and wounding two flight attendants.
At his 1970 trial, Mohammad identified himself as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Palestinian terrorist group. He was found guilty on many counts, including willful manslaughter, arson and obstruction of air navigation.
He was sentenced to 17 years and five months. Suleiman got 14 years and three months.
However, four months later, Palestinian terrorists hijacked an Olympic Airlines plane. The terrorists threatened to blow it up — with all 55 passengers and the crew on board — unless the Greek authorities released seven prisoners, including Mohammad and Suleiman.
The Athens government capitulated, and Mohammad was released and sent to Lebanon.
Mohammad, along with his wife and three children, arrived in Canada a immigrants on Feb. 25, 1987. He omitted his criminal record from his application, which he completed in 1986 at the Canadian Embassy in Madrid.
Due to errors on the part of Canadian intelligence and immigration officials, Canada granted him security clearance and a visa.
But after Mohammad’s plane had already left Spain, Canadian intelligence agents in Ottawa issued an alert at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport that Mohammad was en route and was to be denied entry.
But a shift change took place before the flight arrived and the new workers were not informed of the alert, allowing Mohammad to slip into Canada.
In January 1988, a newspaper broke the story of his presence, causing a public uproar. A month later, Mohammad attempted to flee Canada for an unspecified Arab country and was forced to return to Toronto.
A order for his deportation was issued in December 1988, after an immigration hearing concluded that he had hidden his criminal record when applying for permanent residence.
But Mohammad was allowed to stay — pending his request for refugee status. Due to the backlog of cases, it took nearly four years for a preliminary hearing to take place.
At his preliminary hearing in November 1992, Mohammad was granted the full hearing for which the ruling was just made.