Skip to main content

Sayfildin Tahir Sharif appears in court in Edmonton, Thursday, Jan.20, 2011 in this artist's sketch. The lawyer for Sharif, a Canadian man suspected of supporting a terrorist group, says his client will fight extradition to the United States.Amanda McRoberts/The Canadian Press

To Cara Rain, he was a loving husband and father, one whose affection and religion helped her find the peace she'd long sought.

But RCMP and U.S. intelligence officers allege her husband, Sayfildin Tahir Sharif, is a terrorist conspirator, one who helped co-ordinate attacks on American targets in Iraq.

On Sunday, Ms. Rain broke her silence, nearly two weeks after her common-law husband was arrested in Edmonton. As he faced a bail hearing this week, she made her support for him clear. It paints a tale of two men - one a dutiful father, the other an alleged terrorist.

"Sayfildin Tahir Sharif is not a terrorist," Ms. Rain said in a statement released on her behalf by her husband's lawyer. "He is a kind generous man, a hard-working man, a loving and kind and affectionate father."

She added: "I would not have shared my home, and shared my life, and shared my children's life with a terrorist. And to my knowledge, the evidence that the U.S. has against Sayfildin is not enough to prove he is a terrorist or has terrorist tendencies."

Mr. Sharif is a Canadian citizen and a stucco worker who lived in Edmonton with Ms. Rain, a grocery store worker, and her four children from a previous relationship. Mr. Sharif took the children in as his own, Ms. Rain said, and she took in something of his - religion - by converting to Islam.

In her statement, she declared her faith "a religion of peace" that has "helped me overcome issues in my own life to become a better person."

In doing so, she rejected what investigators argue was her husband's view of his faith: invoking it for suicide bombers, with promises of 70 virgins and honour in the afterlife. "Do not forget to keep reading [the Koran]note>Qur'an and repeat the famous prayers on the way until you meet with God," he is alleged to have told one fighter, according to court documents. "Even if I can't work over there, I can work here," he allegedly added.

Since Mr. Sharif's sudden arrest, Ms. Rain, who grew up on an Alberta aboriginal reserve before moving to Edmonton, has avoided the spotlight. She spoke for three hours to RCMP investigators about her husband shortly after his arrest. "I answered all their questions, as did he: we have nothing to hide," her statement said.

Ms. Rain consented to a lengthy interview with a local newspaper columnist over the weekend, saying in it that her husband phones home to Iraq every day, speaking Arabic, which she doesn't understand. She told the columnist she couldn't reconcile the charges facing him with the man she knew, the one she met in 2008 through a friend and who took her on a first date to a Tim Hortons. She told the paper she supports her husband "a million per cent," precisely the same phrase authorities say he used in his support for a suicide bombing plot.

Mr. Sharif is alleged to have used three aliases. He faces extradition to the United States and allegations of conspiring to murder U.S. nationals, providing material support for terrorists. He is alleged to have considered becoming a martyr himself, and hoping to travel to Iraq with a "mute bride with a crown," which investigators say is code for a rifle with a viewing-scope and a silencer, and "a lot of children," or ammunition.

He had a brief court appearance last week and he is due again in court on Feb. 2.

Ms. Rain, meanwhile, awaits his release, hoping the legal system will bear out her vision of Mr. Sharif, and not that of American authorities. What she wants now, according to her lawyer Bob Aloneissi, is simply to "get some sense of normalcy back in her life."