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Officials identify passenger who caused diversion of Aeromexico flight Add to ...

Canadian officials have released the identity of the foreigner who caused an Aeromexico flight to be diverted to Montreal on Sunday.

The plane, bound from France to Mexico, was to pass through U.S. air space but was denied access for security reasons. It was allowed to resume its journey only after Abdirahman Ali Gaal was let off, and then arrested, at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.

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Mr. Gaal's identity was revealed by Canadian officials Monday, but the evidence against him is being kept under wraps until his removal hearing on Wednesday.

There are suggestions he is Somali, but officials will not confirm this or any other basic biographic details.

"This information will be confirmed and become public on Wednesday at the beginning of the hearing," said Robert Gervais, a spokesman for the federal Immigration and Refugee Board.

It's unclear why Mr. Gaal is regarded as such a threat. "We can confirm the plane he was on was rerouted to Pierre Elliott Trudeau in Montreal at the request of the U.S. authorities," said Jacqueline Roby of the Canada Border Services Agency.

The U.S. no-fly list is secret. The people named on it are regarded as threats, and have not necessarily broken any laws or committed any provable wrongdoing. Persons on the list are not only prohibited from flying to the United States - they are prohibited from flying over the United States.

Washington has lately passed several Presidential orders to curb the movements of Somali militant Islamists and Somali pirates, though Mr. Gaal's name does not appear on any known public lists.

There are some reports he is the subject of an outstanding warrant, but there is no information as to what country issued it or what the offence might be.

At the moment, he is formally being held only because he doesn't have a visa for Canada - a country he never intended to visit. He stands accused only of violating the most catch-all clauses of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).

He is specifically accused of violating IRPA Section 20 - not holding "visa or other document required under the regulations" - and also Section 41, an "act or omission which contravenes, directly or indirectly, a provision of this act."

The plane left Paris early Sunday morning and was rerouted to Montreal mid-flight. After being stalled on the tarmac for several hours, the rest of the 150 passengers were able to fly over the United States en route their way to Mexico City.

It's not clear why Mr. Gaal was allowed to board the plan in the first place if the United States had fears about him.

 

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