Skip to main content

The false Canadian passport used by Algerian Ahmed Ressam when he lived in Canada and attempted to enter the United States is shown in this photocopy of an evidence exhibit provided by U.S. federal prosecutors following Mr. Ressam’s conviction on several terrorism-related charges.

NICK UT/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Al-Qaeda and Mossad, Hezbollah and the CIA, don't have much in common save for a demonstrated preference that the passport for dirty deeds is Canada's.

Since the Cold War, Canadian passports have been desirable for spies, state-sponsored assassins, terrorists and just about anyone else seeking to be plausibly ordinary across a range of languages, ethnicities and religions.

That a Hezbollah bus bomber in Bulgaria should be bearing a Canadian passport is good tradecraft, whether or not he was an actual citizen from a deliberately multicultural society with a genuine travel document or just carrying a good fake.

Story continues below advertisement

Mossad, Israeli's renowned and deadly intelligence agency, opted for Canadian passports when operatives murdered a Moroccan waiter in Norway in 1973 – thinking he was a Palestinian terrorist linked to the Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes. Ottawa's outrage didn't stop Mossad from opting again to use Canadian passports – taken from from Canadian-Israeli dual nationals – as cover for a 1997 assassination attempt of Hamas's political chief, Khaled Meshaal, in Jordan.

Allies and enemies alike recognize the value of a Canadian passport, a visa-free entry in most of the world, even the United States.

Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian al-Qaeda foot soldier and member of Montreal's notorious Islamic jihadist cell, applied for and was issued a Canadian passport in 1999 in the name of a long-deceased Quebec infant as he prepared for the Millennium bombing attack intended to blow up Los Angeles airport.

Canadian governments have sometimes been complicit in the false issuance of passports. In 1980, Ottawa gave a half-dozen passports to the CIA to extract U.S. diplomats from Tehran, where Islamic radicals had stormed the American embassy. In doing so, Ottawa reinforced the widely held view that a nice blue Canadian passport was the ideal document to get into, or out of, a bad place.

Last month, another Canadian passport turned up, this time on the charred body of an Islamic jihadi linked to al-Qaeda who played a leading role – according to Algerian authorities – in the hostage taking and murder of scores of westerners at a remote Sahara gas facility.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter