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An Egyptian who has twice been jailed under Canada's controversial security-certificate process, repeated in Federal Court yesterday that he is not a terrorist and that his only conversation with a senior al-Qaeda operative was over a cup of tea.

Mahmoud Jaballah, a biology teacher and father of six, is undergoing another hearing on the reasonableness of a security certificate -- signed by two federal government ministers -- that has resulted in his imprisonment since August, 2001.

Mr. Jaballah was first arrested in the mid-1990s, but later released when a Federal Court judge quashed the certificate. Yesterday, he acknowledged that he had met an associate of Osama bin Laden, Ahmed Said Khadr who was killed in Afghanistan by Pakistani forces in 2001, but said it was an innocent meeting. Mr. Jaballah said that Mr. Khadr's in-laws helped his wife buy groceries when Mr. Jaballah and his family first came to Toronto as refugees and that he and Mr. Khadr drank tea together. He also testified that he had seen Mr. Khadr at his mosque.

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Mr. Jaballah's lawyer, John Norris, also probed his client about an Interpol alert that suggested he was part of a terrorist organization called Egyptian Al-Jihad. "The Egyptian government tends to exaggerate things . . . ," he said.

Mr. Jaballah testified that Egyptian authorities had once arrested -- and later released him -- on inaccurate evidence that he was plotting to kill the country's minister of the interior.

He also denied allegations from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that he fought and trained in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Yemen. He said that in the early 1990s he travelled to Pakistan to work as a school teacher.

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