A Canadian citizen who was once personally helped by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien has been named among nine of the most wanted terrorists in Afghanistan.
Ahmed Said Khadr has caused embarrassment for Ottawa since his name turned up among 39 people the United States branded as terrorists two months ago.
Now, the former charity organizer is included among a handful of top al-Qaeda masterminds on a list of wanted men circulated among militia groups in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported yesterday.
Mr. Chrétien met Mr. Khadr's wife during a trade mission to Pakistan in 1996 and asked then-prime minister Benazir Bhutto for guarantees that Mr. Khadr would be treated fairly by Pakistani authorities, who suspected him of a deadly bombing at the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad.
Mr. Khadr was released shortly after the intervention.
Ottawa has said Mr. Chrétien was merely trying to make sure the Canadian citizen was being treated fairly, and didn't request his release.
Born in Egypt, Mr. Khadr immigrated to Canada in 1977 at the age of 29.
He married an Egyptian Palestinian refugee, Maha Elsamnah, and moved to Peshawar, Pakistan, where he served as the local head of Human Concern International.
The charity was one of many organizations that were helping refugees fleeing to Pakistan from Afghanistan and supporting the mujahedeen freedom fighters who waged war against the Soviet occupying forces throughout the 1980s.
Among those mujahedeen at the time was Osama bin Laden, who was featured at the top of the most recent list of wanted terrorists.
Under Mr. Khadr's direction, Human Concern ran food-for-work projects to help rebuild Afghanistan and give jobs to refugees.
Mr. Khadr, who lost a foot to a land mine in 1992, travelled frequently between Pakistan and Canada. His current whereabouts is unknown, but he is believed to have had contact with Mr. bin Laden in Afghanistan.
Yesterday, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan interim leader, said terrorism "is largely defeated" in his country.
"Some may be still here, but I don't think they are in large numbers," he said. "There are remnants in the form of individuals or small groups. Those should be looked for and arrested and put to trial."
Mr. Karzai spoke after his second cabinet meeting since the temporary government took office on Saturday.
Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah reported progress on protracted talks to implement a multinational peacekeeping force in the country, adding that the delay in decision-making could not be attributed to disagreements concerning the details.