A security guard at a Montreal college that has become a hotbed of Islamist radicalization has made an assault allegation against a visiting Muslim teacher who was once accused of terrorist links.
Adil Charkaoui met with police on the weekend and faces an assault complaint after he was accused of shoving the security guard during a confrontation at a pickup soccer game at Collège de Maisonneuve. Mr. Charkaoui, who denies the allegation, confirmed he is free on a promise to appear in court March 16. A prosecutor must sign off on the complaint before it proceeds to court and becomes an official assault charge.
A group of young men were playing soccer in a gymnasium at the college on Feb. 21 when a security guard on his rounds confronted them. According to the college, the students shouted at the guard, surrounded him and threw balls at him before Mr. Charkaoui shoved him in the chest. Mr. Charkaoui and Farouk Aoun, the game organizer who rented the space, say Mr. Charkaoui was there only to play soccer with his son and acted as peacekeeper and gently guided the guard away from the confrontation.
The incident occurred a little more than a year after several students with connections to Mr. Charkaoui and Collège de Maisonneuve disappeared to join jihadi fighters in the Middle East. Last April, four more de Maisonneuve students were arrested at Montreal’s Trudeau airport apparently also en route to join Islamic State. No charges were laid in the interception and three of the students have returned to the school, according to the college.
In the months since, Montreal launched an anti-radicalization centre backed by the province, which has also drafted a law to crack down on extremist indoctrination. The college has had numerous reports of tension between students and administrators. Mr. Charkaoui has been a frequent lightning rod and provocateur in Quebec media.
Mr. Charkaoui, who spent six years in detention and under electronic monitoring as Ottawa pursued him as a terror suspect before the case was dropped in 2009, faces frequent accusations that he is radicalizing Muslim youth in Montreal. “It’s like collective hysteria,” Mr. Charkaoui said in a text exchange Monday. “Things have moved with incredible speed.”
Mr. Charkaoui was renting space at the college for Islamic lessons last year when some students with ties to him joined the jihadi travel movement. The school suspended the rental briefly, then allowed him to complete his contract under supervision. They did not rent him space this year but he is not banned from the grounds.
The school accused Mr. Charkaoui of provoking the soccer confrontation to mark the one-year anniversary of the contract controversy. “It was a strange coincidence,” Line Legaré, the school spokesperson, told radio host Paul Arcand last week.
After the soccer incident, Montreal police told La Presse that officers had attended the confrontation but decided it was simply a quarrel. Pressure mounted last week as school administrators met with Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and the local member of the National Assembly.
Five days after the altercation, Mr. Charkaoui was informed he would be charged. “Circumstances change sometimes. A witness doesn’t have to press charges immediately,” said Abdullah Emran, a spokesman for the Montreal police service who said he couldn’t comment on the specific case. “It sometimes happens that [a complainant will] wake up the next day and decide they won’t put up with whatever happened.”
Moroccan-born, Mr. Charkaoui was arrested in 2003 under an immigration security certificate after officials suspected he attended an Islamist training camp in Afghanistan. He successfully challenged the certificate in 2009 after the Canadian Security Intelligence Service refused to turn over any evidence they had against him. Mr. Charkaoui has since gained his Canadian citizenship and is suing the federal government.Report Typo/Error