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September, 29, 2009; MONTREAL, ON: Stills from VIDEO: Abousfian Abdelrazik in an interview with the Globe's Paul Koring, Sept. 21-22, in Montreal. (Tory Zimmerman/Globe and Mail/Tory Zimmerman/Globe and Mail)
September, 29, 2009; MONTREAL, ON: Stills from VIDEO: Abousfian Abdelrazik in an interview with the Globe's Paul Koring, Sept. 21-22, in Montreal. (Tory Zimmerman/Globe and Mail/Tory Zimmerman/Globe and Mail)

WikiLeaks

U.S. file alleges Abdelrazik got $10,000 from al-Qaeda-linked financier Add to ...

Abousfian Abdelrazik, the Canadian citizen who is suing Ottawa for $27-million alleging government complicity in overseas torture, received $10,000 from an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist "financier," according to U.S. documents.

Mr. Abdelrazik is alleged to have made an admission about receiving the money to unspecified interrogators, according to a "secret" intelligence file that surfaced this week via WikiLeaks. The U.S. Department of Defence file gives no explanation as to what the money might have been used for, nor does it provide any evidence the transaction actually took place.

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Until now, nothing has backed up the terrorist-financing allegations that have long dogged Mr. Abdelrazik, who was jailed in Sudan and is now fighting to remove his name from a United Nations blacklist.

The reference to the transaction appears in a "secret" Pentagon intelligence assessment concerning a distinct detainee, an Algerian who spent nine years jailed as a terrorist suspect in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Abousfian Abdelrazik stated detainee gave him [Abdelrazik]$10,000. Abdelrazik added detainee visited his apartment," reads the Pentagon charge sheet against the detainee, Hassan Zemiri, who used to live in Montreal.

Paul Champ, the Ottawa lawyer representing Mr. Abdelrazik, responded to the leak by saying "there's really very little new."

"Mr. Abdelrazik has always categorically denied receiving money or handling money or transferring any money for al-Qaeda or any extremist group."

The origins of the Abdelrazik affair date back to events in Quebec from more than a decade ago.

In December of 1999, an al-Qaeda-trained Algerian, Ahmad Ressam, was arrested at the U.S. border with a carload of explosives. As a result, Canadian authorities stepped up their intelligence investigations of Mr. Ressam's wider circle in Montreal.

While the probe led to no arrests in Canada, it did factor into several detentions overseas.

Mr. Abdelrazik was arrested as he travelled to his native Sudan. While jailed in that country - which is condemned internationally for human rights abuses - he was questioned by Canadian, American, French and Sudanese anti-terrorism agents.

In 2009, Mr. Abdelrazik came back to Canada - but only after a Federal Court judge ruled that the Conservative government had spent years blocking his right to return home. Both CSIS and the RCMP have since written to federal ministers to say they have no current information implicating Mr. Abdelrazik as a terrorist threat.

Mr. Abdelrazik's lawsuit, which claims he was tortured in Sudan at Canada's behest, is buttressed by federal government memos saying he was jailed "at our request." Government lawyers, who deny complicity in torture, suggest that the scars on Mr. Abdelrazik's torso were self-inflicted.

In the United States, Mr. Ressam turned informant in a bid to reduce his jail time. He testified in an open court that one of his Montreal friends had given him $3,500 to finance the bomb plot.

This was Hassan Zemiri, the alleged al-Qaeda financier from Montreal.

Mr. Zemiri was captured in late 2001 in Tora Bora, Afghanistan. The U.S. military alleges he was part of a group of al-Qaeda fighters who fought off U.S. soldiers just long enough that Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born al-Qaeda founder, was allowed to escape to Pakistan.

"A U.S. helicopter attacked the group attempting to escape Tora Bora which resulted in the detainee's injury [to his right arm]as well as the injury or death of the majority of the group," reads the leaked Pentagon intelligence file on Mr. Zemiri.

Mr. Zemiri, who had three $100 bills on him at the time of his arrest, was branded an al-Qaeda financier and sent to Guantanamo Bay.

"Detainee acknowledged knowing Ahmad Ressam and Abousfian Abdelrazik quite well," says the leaked November, 2008, document. It cites the Montreal associations as part of the reason for keeping Mr. Zemiri locked up in Guantanamo as a "high risk" threat.

Yet in early 2010, the Obama administration released Mr. Zemiri to Algeria as part of its efforts to depopulate the prison. "He's back home with his parents," said Nicole Moen, a Minnesota lawyer who had acted for Mr. Zemiri, in an interview.

"The U.S. government's allegation are denied and disputed," she said, adding that her client had just been acquitted of terrorism charges by an Algerian court. She added that Mr. Ressam has also written a U.S. judge to recant his allegations that her client helped finance the bomb plot.

The "secret" Zemiri file surfaced amid hundreds of Guantanamo Bay files dumped by WikiLeaks this week.

State Department cables have also been leaked, including ones showing that American diplomats closely followed Canadian media coverage of the Abdelrazik case.

Elsewhere, U.S. diplomats were making efforts to blacklist him as a terrorist. In 2007, according to another leak, an economics officer in Helsinki met a Finnish bureaucrat to ensure the Scandinavian country was following up on United Nations order to freeze Mr. Abdelrazik's assets.

In 2009, the Canadian government froze his Montreal bank account. It had more than $10,000 in it. Mr. Abdelrazik has stated the funds were left to him by his wife, who died of cancer.

Follow us on Twitter: @colinfreeze, @PaulKoring

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