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Sabre-wielding suspect Tasered during vandalism at Montreal mosque, police say

Adil Charkaoui speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Tuesday Sept. 29, 2009. Charkaoui is the director of the Centre Communautaire Islamique de l'Est de Montréal.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Montreal police say they Tasered a sabre-wielding man as he tried to vandalize a Muslim community centre early Tuesday morning.

Police were staking out the Centre Communautaire Islamique de l'Est de Montréal after it had been the target of several acts of vandalism recently.

The suspect appeared around 1:45 a.m. Tuesday. When officers surrounded him, he pulled out a 50-centimetre-long sabre and made threats.

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Police said they tried to negotiate with the 47-year-old but eventually fired a Taser gun at him.

The centre's director is Adil Charkaoui, a Moroccan-born Montrealer who was once detained as a terror suspect under a national-security certificate. His case was quashed by a judge in 2009 after the federal government withdrew its evidence against him rather than subject it to scrutiny.

More recently, Mr. Charkaoui has been making headlines as a critic of the Parti Québécois' Charter of Values proposal.

It appears the suspect and Mr. Charkaoui have crossed paths before over their disagreements about the charter, which would have banned public-sector workers from wearing conspicuous religious gear such as Islamic head veils.

Police wouldn't release the name of the suspect until he appears in court but one officer said the man was known to them.

The officer said the suspect had been "recently arrested" for a similar incident.

Last fall, a man of the same age as the suspect was charged with uttering threats against Mr. Charkaoui.

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René Daoust entered a guilty plea and got a suspended sentence with a one-year probation.

According to an article last month in Journal de Montréal, Mr. Daoust is a staunch pro-charter supporter.

Mr. Daoust reportedly made threats on his Facebook page, telling anti-charter demonstrators they should "beware of snipers" and warning Mr. Charkaoui that "your hours are numbered, dirty terrorist."

His lawyer told the judge that Mr. Daoust's aim was "to make political pressure."

Speaking to the Journal reporter, Mr. Daoust said he wasn't racist but "totally anti-Islamist."

On his Facebook page, Mr. Daoust describes himself as a heavy-equipment operator who lives in Longueuil, south of Montreal.

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His page features a photo of what looks like a burning Koran and a painting of Charles Martel, the Frankish leader whose defeat of Arab invaders in 732 stopped the Muslim march into Europe.

The Islamic centre says it has been vandalized four times in the last month, most recently on Saturday.

Last week, a window was smashed by a rock and a Quebec flag with the words "Kill Islam" tossed inside. In April, an axe with the words "Kill Muslims" and another obscenity describing the Liberal Party was tossed through a window.

Mr. Charkaoui says he was also mailed a threatening letter with white powder inside.

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More

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