Former ISIS mechanic claimed refugee status in Canada since 2015
A Lebanese national who came to Canada in 2015 has been found complicit in crimes against humanity for his time working as a mechanic for the Islamic State, according to Global News.
Arriving into Canada claiming refugee status, the man, whose name has not been made public, made numerous trips to Syria to work on military-style vehicles for ISIS, and also supervised and led other ISIS mechanics.
By doing so, he made a “knowing and significant contribution to ISIS,” says the Refugee Appeal Division. The vehicles also would have needed high-level expertise in auto electrical systems, a skill-set that the unnamed man had. Military vehicles are “vital to the success of ISIS” and were used for suicide bombings, as well as combat.
This information also allows for a clear decision to be made, as the man is now ineligible for refugee status. The federal officials would not say if he has been detained or deported, though.
According to Global News, The Canadian embassy in Beirut approved his Visa in the spring of 2015, after a relative who lives in Canada sent a letter of invitation. He made a refugee claim later that year in September of 2015.
Three months later, government agencies intervened in the man’s immigration process, arguing that he was ineligible for refugee status for his complicit behaviour in ISIS crimes.
The decision was recently upheld by Patricia O’Connor of the Refugee Appeal Division, who dismissed the unnamed man’s claim that his time with the Islamic State was brief, and only under duress.
The man, originally working as a mechanic in Zahlé, a Lebanese city close to the border of Syria, was asked by a customer to repair vehicles at a location 30 to 40 minutes away.
After making the journey, he was taken to a hanger in a Sunni Muslim area where he was searched for any weapons. The man, a Christian, was forced to remove his cross, and his cell phone was taken away.
In the hangar were 15 to 20 vehicles, one of which still wet with blood from a prior conflict.
The vehicles had been militarized, which he knowingly helped to repair them for future battles with ISIS
The IRB says the man was paid “a lot of cash” for his involvement. “He said that they treated him well, paid him generously and trusted him to the extent that he was brought to ISIS locations in Lebanon and Syria.”
His involvement with ISIS ended in May 2015, and thus began his journey to Canada.
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The RCMP intercepted 16,503 people illegally crossing into Canada from the U.S.-Canada border in 2019, according to new federal government data.
The number of people entering Canada via the border at unofficial ports of entry declined in 2019, but the total number of people making asylum claims jumped from 55,040 in 2018 to 63,830 according to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada.
The increase is due to more and more people flying to Canada and then making asylum claims upon arrival at airports across the country.
The Safe Third Country Agreement between America and Canada means asylum seekers are supposed to make refugee claims in the first safe country they enter, but when individuals cross illegally into Canada they are able to bypass the agreement.
The Trudeau government dragged its feet on doing anything significant to address the spike in illegal border crossings, first changing the wording to “irregular border crossings” and accusing critics of stoking xenophobia.
But in the lead-up to the 2019 election, after government internal polling showed the vast majority of Canadians polled didn’t approve of people crossing into Canada illegally, the Liberals promised to change legislation to curb the influx.
The spike in illegal border crossings began around the time Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that Canada welcomes those looking to find a new home and when U.S. President Donald Trump was cracking down on illegal immigration in America.
The National Post via an access to information request found that their was a deluge of inquiries across the world to Canadian embassies of people inquiring how to immigrate to Canada after Trudeau’s tweet in early 2017.
According to reports, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen’s briefing notes in December stated their are no formal plans setup with the U.S. to address the loophole to the Safe Third Party Agreement.
Two weeks ago CBC’s The National aired a report on the homeless crisis in Toronto, where the shelter system is currently overwhelmed with people needing a place to stay during the harsh winter nights, with many being turned away because of lack of beds at many locations. The CBC story failed to include any mention of the thousands of refugee claimants who have illegally entered Canada from the U.S. border and sought shelter in Toronto over the past few years that is the major factor in the system being overloaded.
The CBC then repackaged the story and published it on Boxing Day. The story with the major omission became the most popular story on CBC’s website by Thursday afternoon, misinforming the public.
“It’s early morning in Toronto—the biggest, richest city in the country. People go about their business. But there’s a crisis here that most people don’t really want to see. There are more homeless people in Toronto than ever before. And the thing is, do we even notice them anymore? Do we care?” asks CBC journalist Nick Purdon in the long eight-and-a-half-minute segment that doesn’t look at the added cost or demand of the homeless population in Toronto.
“People are dying. Eight homeless people have died in Toronto in the past two months, and winter is just getting started. And that’s why activists are here in front of City Hall demanding the City declare a state of emergency,” Purdon continues, not once mentioning throughout the story why there are more homeless people in Toronto—because there are tens of thousands of migrants coming across the border or entering Canadian airports and making refugee status claims over the past few years.
While doing investigative reporting for True North in the first part of 2019 on the Toronto homeless shelter system, I discovered that the many millions of dollars the City of Toronto spent on accommodations such as hotels, motels, other buildings and multimillion dollar tents were predominantly for refugee claimants, many of whom stay at these locations for six-month periods in order to be eligible for a housing allowance that lasts up to four years, even after finding a job. These types of accommodations are the better part of Toronto’s two-tier shelter system. Some of the older, rundown respite facilities (temporary homeless shelter buildings) and homeless shelters, like Seaton House, were scheduled to be decommissioned years ago but because of the in flux of migrants and the overall homeless population spiking in the past few years they’ve had their doors kept open indefinitely.
But none of this vital context to the homeless shelter system crisis is mentioned in the CBC reports that can only be described as journalistic negligence or malpractice.
“Kevin wants the City to create more shelter beds. The fact is, if you make minimum wage, or collect social assistance, it’s almost impossible to afford an apartment in Toronto nowadays. And so shelters are full,” CBC’s Purdon reported carelessly and unquestioningly.
Never mind that the City of Toronto has already spent tens of millions of more taxpayer dollars into expanding the shelter system over the past few years, or that Canada’s large immigration levels, the burgeoning Airbnb market, foreign homebuyers, government housing subsidies and the in flux of tens of thousands of refugee claimants all are affecting Toronto’s rising house and rent prices.
No, instead CBC journalists would rather show Canadian homeless people devoid of any of this context, say there’s a crisis, and then ask Canadians if they care, implying taxpayers should be doing more; Taxpayer-funded CBC journalist’s mission accomplished.
Credit, where credit is due, though. The CBC did take time to humanize several homeless men, people dehumanized daily by a public that often pretend they don’t exist. However, a journalist’s job is not to tell a story based solely upon emotions, devoid of the most pertinent facts,statistics and context on why this is happening.
Could it also be, despite CBC’s David Cochrane berating CPC MP Pierre Poilievre for suggesting it, that the Canadian economy isn’t all that healthy, so that’s also a partial contributing factor to the homelessness problem in Canada, too?
CBC’s own story on homelessness and the latest atrocious job numbers, despite massive deficit spending by Trudeau’s Liberals, are signs pointing to yes.
But CBC wants to have its poutine and eat it too.
In CBC’s world it’s rarely Liberal government incompetency that is the source of a problem, but stingy Canadians not paying enough money to fix said problem the Liberals did indeed cause.
“The thing is, when people talk about the homeless it’s often in terms of numbers and statistics like the ones above — but the issue really hits home when you meet the people,” wrote Purdon and another CBC journalist in Thursday’s viral piece.
I’ve met many of Toronto’s homeless, foreign and native, through my reporting. It’s definitely an eye-opening experience that is hard to report on because anyone with an ounce of a compassion ends up feeling for all of these people, but no problem is fixed without fully understanding the underlying context of an issue, which is a journalist’s job to understand and explain.
Euphemisms like “irregular border crossers” or CBC reports that gloss over the sources of a problem do nothing to inform the public or make things better. Instead, they allow for the disastrous status quo to go unchecked.
It’s a sad day for journalism when the top comments in the comment section (surprisingly not closed) explain the situation far better than the negligent reporters.
UPDATE: Embattled Liberal MP apologizes for using photos from U.S. detention camps to attack Conservatives
Update: According to Global News, Adam Vaughan has apologized for his tweets.
“The children of refugees are in profoundly vulnerable situations across the planet and here in Canada. Earlier this week, I criticized the Conservative government of Ontario on this point over Twitter. My tweet, however, in using a picture of refugee children in detention at a U.S. border facility, did the very thing I was criticizing. I should not have used or referenced the plight of those children in the way that I did.”
Vaughan accepted responsibility for his tweets and added, “My tweet has been rightly criticized for doing so. I accept that criticism and have taken the tweet down. I am sorry that the tweet pushed what should have been a serious conversation about child welfare into a political debate about what constitutes fair and responsible comment.”
He ended by saying, “I remain committed to making sure all children, regardless of the status of their parents, are entitled to have their human rights respected as children.”
Liberal MP Adam Vaughan compared Doug Ford’s immigration policy to ICE camps in the U.S. in a now-deleted tweet. He was quickly rebuked.
“The Conservatives tried to take away healthcare for the children of refugees. Now they are trying to blame school cuts on these children. All children need care and all should be in school. We all know where right-wing scapegoating leads us. Our Government won’t cage children.”
He was replying to a statement made by Ontario’s Social Services Minister Todd Smithon the rising cost of education loans due to an increase in asylum seekers.
He received a flurry of responses criticizing his post.
Vaughan tweeted on a Canadian issue and used a photo of ICE detention centers on the US-Mexico border to support his case.
He was recently interviewed by Jim Richards on the Evan Solomon Show on iHeartRadio.ca, where he responded to questions and criticisms regarding his tweet.
When asked whether he was embarrassed over what he tweeted he said, “I am not embarrassed.” He instead began blaming the Conservative government for their mishaps in the province.
“I’d be more embarrassed to cut health care for refugees and immigrants, which the Conservatives tried to do until the Supreme Court told them it was a cruel and unusual punishment.”
He further added, “I’d be more embarrassed to have the education record for the Ford and Conservative government in Ontario.”
Richards asked him, “So why put a picture from Texas in 2018?” and addressed potential scaremongering.
“When you scapegoat refugees and target children you end up in situations where children are put in the most vulnerable position possible.”
Vaughan accuses the Ford government of using immigrant kids to scapegoat education problems.
Following his interview with Richards, numerous online personalities came to an agreement on Vaughan.
This is not the first time Vaughan has made controversial statements. An article of ours points out more of his Twitter hot takes.
A Syrian refugee, Hassan al-Kontar, wants to help up to 250 more refugees relocate to Canada.
Al-Kontar received worldwide acclaim after he spent seven months stranded in an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was subsequently helped in his relocation to Canada by a charity.
Al-Kontar is now working with the charity that helped him escape, along with immigration settlement agency MOSAIC, to privately sponsor up to 250 refugees.
“Eight-hundred-fifty souls, including 24 women, are suffering since six years without a proper trial,” Al Kontar said.
“They are desperate.”
According to Global News, al-Kontar says these refugees will come from two islands in the South Pacific.
These refugees are asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, they were forced there by the Australian government.
“We are hoping to raise $3.3 million and hopefully more to be able to resettle refugees,” MOSAIC’s Saleem Spindari said.
While there is no certainty that all applications for refugee status would get approved, al-Kontar is, nonetheless, hopeful.
“There is a hero inside each one of us,” he said. “We just need to find it.