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Zaynab Khadr Returns To Canada
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27/02/2005

Daughter of alleged terrorist returns

RCMP meets her with search warrant


MICHELLE SHEPHARD
STAFF REPORTER

Zaynab Khadr says she's a woman caught between two worlds.


In Canada, she knows she's reviled for her strident views on the Sept. 11 attacks and because Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was a guest at her wedding. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, she believes her family was considered too western and never fully accepted.

Now, the 25-year-old daughter of Ahmed Said Khadr, who intelligence officials say was an Al Qaeda financier and Canada's highest-ranking member of the terrorist organization, has returned to Canada, joining her controversial family in a small Scarborough apartment.

She was met on arrival at Toronto's international airport last week by RCMP officers with a search warrant.

"I'm not going to say I want to live here for the rest of my life," she said in an interview yesterday. "I'm not saying I don't want to go back to Pakistan; I lived there for 20 years."

Her mother and injured youngest brother, Karim, arrived here last April to a swarm of reporters and were condemned by some who felt the "Al Qaeda family" had no right to live in Canada.

Zaynab Khadr arrived in Toronto quietly on Feb. 17 with her teenage sister and 4 1/2-year-old daughter after packing up her belongings at her rented home in Islamabad, Pakistan. Officials kept her for two hours and seized, she said, all her pictures, papers, laptop and cellphone.

While security officials have questioned other family members, she is believed to be the first to have a search warrant issued for her belongings. The RCMP did not comment on the possibility of ongoing investigations.

She says she came back reluctantly to the country where she was born, because her mother was lonely and she wanted to enrol her own young daughter in an Islamic school in Canada.

She also feels she has more power here to advocate for the rights of her two brothers 18-year-old Omar, who is Canada's only known detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and her eldest brother, Abdullah, who has not been heard from since October. He was reportedly captured in Pakistan and is being held by either Pakistani or American authorities. (Her father was killed and Karim was injured in October 2003 when Pakistani armed forces attacked a suspected Al Qaeda hideout.)

It's clear, despite her Canadian citizenship, that this is not where she feels comfortable. Wearing a chador, only her eyes and hands revealed, she receives a few long glances from the teenagers gathering at the Scarborough fast-food restaurant as she is interviewed.

"I don't like the society here but it doesn't mean I'll judge everyone here because of the society that they're living in," she says.

"I don't agree with the way culture's going on here but I don't walk on the street telling everyone who's not covered that you should cover, you must and unless you do that you're bad."

Her views have softened since she appeared in a 2004 CBC television documentary that profiled a fourth brother, Abdurahman Khadr. The second-eldest son, Abdurahman said he grew up in an "Al Qaeda family," and was counselled by his father to become a suicide bomber. He came back to Canada in December 2003, after working for a brief time for the CIA.

In the documentary, Khadr and her mother criticized how children are brought up in Canada. But it was their comments about the Sept. 11 attacks that generated the most controversy. Americans, she said at the time, deserved to feel a pain similar to what they inflicted on others.

Asked yesterday to talk about those comments, and her upbringing, she says she disagrees with her brother's version. While the family knew bin Laden, he was not, pre-9/11, the prominent figure he now is, she says.

"I mean, we don't even write invitations for weddings. We just say there's a wedding and everybody's invited and everybody passes it on."

Al Qaeda?

"It's not true. If he wants to think that I can't change it but it's not true. We were never an Al Qaeda family. We never were."

About Sept. 11th?

"How do I view that? No one likes killing people. This is something I'm a hundred per cent sure, nobody likes killing people. But sometimes killing can solve a problem, a bigger problem."

When asked if she thought Sept. 11 solved a bigger problem, Khadr replied that, "maybe somebody saw it that way," and "a man doesn't just get on the plane and put himself in a building unless he really believes in something.

"I don't see killing all the Iraqis is solving a problem, but the Americans see it that way and I might disagree with them, and I might think they were wrong, but I can't force them."

And if Canadians want to object to her views, she invites them to email her at: zak79up@yahoo.ca.

Khadr was given emergency travel documents, similar to those provided to her brother Abdurahman, to return to Canada. She says she was not given a replacement passport in Islamabad when her passport expired.

Without a passport, she is unable to leave Canada legally.

Foreign affairs spokesperson Rodney Moore said last night he could not discuss her case due to privacy laws.

Her brother Abdurahman last year won the right to fight the federal government in court after he was denied a passport due, according to court records, to national security concerns and a potential negative public reaction. His lawyer, prominent civil rights litigator Clayton Ruby, will argue the decision violated his Charter rights.

Following his lawsuit, the government granted the passport office and foreign affairs minister the power to refuse or revoke passports on the grounds of national security.

SOURCE: The Toronto Star