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Canada Says It May Take Monthe to Deport Palestinian Terrorist

January 21, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The government, under sharp questioning in Parliament, admitted Tuesday that a convicted Palestinian terrorist managed to enter Canada on an immigrant visa last year and said deporting him “may take many months.”

“There is due process that is being followed,” Solicitor General James Kelleher told the House of Commons.

Immigration Minister Bernoit Bouchard said he ordered officials at his ministry last October to start deportation proceedings against Mahmoud Muhammad Issa Muhammad, 46, who arrived in Canadian Consulate in Madrid.

The questions, mainly by Edward Broadbent, leader of the opposition New Democratic Party, related to the apparent ease with which Issa Muhammad slipped into Canada after the Canadian Embassy in Madrid belatedly discovered his true identity and alerted immigration officials at the Toronto airport.

The story was first reported Monday by the Toronto Globe and Mail, which noted that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s screening system had failed initially to identify Issa Muhammad as a member of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In 1978, Issa Muhammad bombed an Israeli airliner at the Athens airport, killing one man. He was convicted by a Greek court in 1970 and sentenced to 17 years and 5 months in prison. But he was freed a year later in a hostage exchange and deported to Lebanon.


“It took four months to obtain positive identification of the man and afterwards he had to be interviewed, fingerprinted and (immigration officials) had to bring documents from overseas in order to build a case that will stand up in court,” Bouchard explained.

He said that though proceedings started in October, Issa Muhammad, who lives with his wife and three children in Brantford, Ontario, was informed only last December.

Hearings must still be held and officials here said no decision has been made as to where Issa Muhammad will be sent if he is deported.

“It may take many months before his avenues of appeal are all exhausted,” Bouchard said. He added, “Unfortunately, we missed him at the border.”

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