"Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested."
-The Trial, Franz Kafka, First Sentence
And so too was Arab-Canadian software engineer Mayer Arar on September 22, 2002, when he landed at JFK Airport in New York at the end of his holiday to fly home to Canada. Monday's release of the final report of Commission of Inquiry into the Actions of Canadian Officials in Relation to Maher Arar (http://www.ararcommission.ca/... exposes the outrageous events which led to an absolutely innocent family man, his wife and two young children, being branded as "Islamic extremists" with links to Al-Queda on the basis of one cup of coffee. So began Mr. Arar's Kafkaesque journey into the dark night of screaming jets, and his forced rendition by American authorities into the hands of the Palestine Branch of the Syrian Military Intelligence (SMI) for a year of imprisonment in a 3x6x7-foot dungeon on a daily diet of torture and deprivation.
Since 9/11, 6472 Americans have been referred by the FBI for terror-related prosecution, of which a grand total of 14 served any serious time.http://www.news.com.au/...
One of the consequences of the grossly overblown War on Terror is that police forces are faced with the "problem" of too much time to spend too much money to investigate too few people. In justification of their budgets, they are faced with the pressure of producing something, even anything, that will pass muster as a lead, an investigation, and an indictment. Hence the laughable comedies like the Miami 7 who needed government-paid rental cars to tour for targets, the Toronto 12 who wished to behead the Canadian PM.
The Mahar Arar story is a shocking example of how such overzealousness leads to the persecution of the innocent in the name of political correctness and police careerism.
The chain of events from his cup of coffee to a Syrian torture chamber began on October 12, 2001 when he was observed by the RCMP's anti-terror unit, Project A-O, having a cup of coffee with an actual target of a terrorist investigation, Abdullah Almalki, who also appeared as a named emergency contact name on Arar's lease application. That is the sum total of ALL of the evidence against Mr. Mahar Arar. Mr. Arar's recalled that the conversation concerned obtaining cheap bubblejet printer cartridges.
A police officer from Project A-O then requested that Customs Canada place Mr. Arar and inexplicably, his wife, on a lookout list which subjects named persons to secondary inspections when entering the country. The officer had the Arars designated as "terrorism" lookouts, for those suspected of being a member, associate or sympathizer of a known terrorist organization. As a matter of routine, the officer asked for US lookouts, and the Arars were entered onto the US Customs Treasury Enforcement Communications Systems (TECS).
These requests described the Arars for all law enforcement eyes to see as "Islamic extremists" with links to AL-Queda. When the Arars were stopped by Canada Customs, the names of their children (the 6 and 8-year old girls) were added to TECS.
The rest of the story is a sad litany of police incompetence and pure malice as persons unknown leaked to the press at least eight reports intended to malign and impugn the reputation of Mr. Arar after his ordeal and return to Canada. Despite calls for the resignation of the RCMP's Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, it is unlikely given the neocon sensibility and slavish pro-American slant of the current Canadian government.
If Maher Arar can spend one year in a torture chamber for having a cup of coffee, how many other Arars are out there? And if all it takes is one rogue cop pushing an enter key on his keyboard to make you an "Islamic extremist", could any of us be next?