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Third Montrealer on detainee list at Guantanamo Add to ...

A third former Montreal resident has turned up among the hundreds of detainees at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Until now, Djamel Ameziane's connection with Canada and details of the accusations against him had not been made public.

The United States alleges that he left Montreal for Kabul in 2000, ended up in a guesthouse with Taliban fighters and, after the U.S. attacked Afghanistan in late 2001, travelled with them to Tora Bora, the border area where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden escaped capture.

The allegations are found within the 5,000 pages of transcripts about Guantanamo inmates that the U.S. Department of Defence released last Friday.

The case against Mr. Ameziane, 38, is outlined in a summary prepared for the Administrative Review Board, the military panel evaluating whether a prisoner is still a threat.

Mr. Ameziane, who was captured four years ago, remains in detention, his lawyer, Robert Rachlin, said in an interview.

"There's nothing here that shows that he so much as held a firearm or did anything against the United States -- he's one of those guys who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. There's nothing more here than guilt by association."

Mr. Ameziane, an Algerian citizen, arrived in Canada in late 1995, using a fake Dutch passport. He applied for refugee status but was rejected.

According to U.S. authorities, he left in late 2000.

"Prior to his departure from Canada, the detainee received 1,200 to 1,500 Canadian dollars from a Tunisian man who had encouraged [him]to travel to Afghanistan," the summary says.

It says Mr. Ameziane followed instructions and went to a Kabul guesthouse run by an al-Qaeda member. Some of the other residents were Taliban fighters.

Afterward, "the detainee travelled with Taliban fighters through the Tora Bora mountains during the U.S. bombing campaign," the summary says. It adds that Mr. Ameziane was captured in Pakistan after trying at one point to escape from a bus that was "forcibly overtaken by other prisoners."

Mr. Ameziane says he is not an al-Qaeda member and was not issued a weapon, the summary notes. "The detainee stated he left Canada because they would not grant him asylum. He was not even thinking of jihad when he moved to Afghanistan."

The U.S. document does not identify Mr. Ameziane's alleged Tunisian recruiter. But in past court cases against terror suspects, it has been alleged that a Tunisian-born Montrealer named Raouf Hannachi recruited local Muslims to go to training camps in Afghanistan in the late 1990s.

Another Montrealer of Tunisian origin who is alleged to have an al-Qaeda connection is Abderraouf Jdey (his name is also transliterated as al-Jiddi), a fugitive who left a suicide message on videotapes recovered in Afghanistan.

Until now, two former Montrealers were known to be in Guantanamo: Algerian-born Ahcène Zemiri and Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian citizen.

The only Canadian inmate is Omar Khadr, who was 15 when he was captured following a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan. His lawyers are planning to argue before an international panel on Monday that the United States should suspend his military trial for murder because he was not given his rights as a juvenile.

The case will be heard by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an independent watchdog panel established by the Organization of American States.

Follow on Twitter: @TuThanhHa

 

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