Accused Pakistani terrorist decides against testifying at deportation hearing

A Pakistani man accused of plotting terror attacks in Toronto’s financial district decided on Tuesday to stop testifying despite facing possible criminal sanction for doing so.

TORONTO — A Pakistani man accused of plotting terror attacks in Toronto’s financial district decided on Tuesday to stop testifying despite facing possible criminal sanction for doing so.

The decision from Jahanzeb Malik, a permanent resident of Canada facing a deportation hearing, could see him fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to up to five years in prison.

“I’m choosing not to answer the questions,” Malik told the Immigration and Refugee Board hearing. “Any questions.”

“There may be consequences,” Andrew Laut, the presiding member, told him.

Malik, 34, had been testifying via video link from the detention centre in Lindsay, Ont., responding to questions from John Oliveira of Canada Border Services Agency.

He told the hearing he had travelled to Libya two years ago to teach English as a second language.

“It was a job opportunity,” he said. “I went there, you know, to make some money.”

Malik said he spent two months in the Libyan city of Benghazi before heading to Pakistan to see his parents.

Pictures he took in Libya were lost when he dropped his phone, he said.

Oliveira questioned Malik about his religious beliefs and to which Muslim sect he belonged to.

“I don’t believe in sects. I’m a simple Muslim,” Malik replied. “I’m not a religious scholar.”

Oliveira asked if he was an observant Muslim.

“I don’t know what you mean,” Malik said. “What’s the definition of an observant Muslim?”

Ottawa accuses Malik of plotting to attack the U.S. consulate and financial district buildings in Toronto and wants him declared inadmissible. It also accuses him of trying to recruit and radicalize others to help commit terrorist acts.

The government’s case is largely based on evidence gathered by an undercover RCMP officer, who befriended the flooring contractor. The officer, who cannot be identified under a sweeping publication ban, has yet to testify at the Immigration and Refugee Board hearing.

Malik, a father of two, came to Canada as a student in 2004 to study math at York University, and became a permanent resident in 2009.

He was vague about his various Twitter handles and multiple Facebook accounts, which he said had been hacked or disabled for reasons he didn’t know. “Ask Facebook,” he said.

Asked to explain one tweet in which he used an expletive against Shia Muslims, he said he didn’t intend to condemn all Shias but wanted to make clear he didn’t condone killings in the name of sects.

“They’re the ones who committed this atrocity,” he said. “Everything has context.”

Malik’s lawyer, Anser Farooq, noted the rules of evidence are much looser than those in a criminal court. He objected to the government’s entering 400 pages of typed notes of the officer’s interactions with Malik.

RCMP did not provide audio recordings of the interactions and it’s impossible to verify the notes, Farooq said.

“We can’t meaningfully test any of them,” Farooq said. “(Mr. Malik) is in a forum where his hands are tied, both literally and figuratively.”

Laut disagreed. Farooq would get a chance to question the officer about the notes when he testifies, Laut said.

Also on Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced legislation he said would make it easier to deport foreign criminals.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RCMP file photo (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)
RCMP lay cattle rustling, drug and firearm charges in Clearwater County

A cattle rustling investigation in Clearwater County led to firearms and drug… Continue reading

(File photo by Advocate staff)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a statement after a meeting of the college of commissioners at EU headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, April 14, 2021. EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced plans Wednesday for a major contract extension for COVID-19 vaccines with Pfizer stretching to 2023. (John Thys, Pool via AP)
EU reaches major climate deal ahead of Biden climate summit

Provisional deal reached after officials negotiated through the night

Mountain Men’s Barbershop co-owners Laura-Lee Gambee, left, and Heidi Forster pose in their Collingwood, Ont., shop in an undated handout image. Small business owners and the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses say companies started in the months leading up to COVID-19 or those that opened during the pandemic don’t qualify for the recently-extended rent or wage subdies or a new hiring subsidy the government announced Monday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Kiley VanderMeer
New, young small businesses left out of federal budget want more aid: CFIB

Eligibility requirements for subsidies need improving

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett takes her seat as she wait to appear before the Indigenous and Northern Affairs committee in Ottawa, March 10, 2020. Federal officials are facing calls for greater clarity on how a proposed new law to harmonize Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People could affect future development projects and government decisions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Feds pressed to define ‘free, prior and informed consent’ in UNDRIP bill

UNDRIP bill mandates government adopt more inclusive approach

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

FILE - Ted Nugent performs at Rams Head Live in Baltimore on Aug. 16, 2013. Nugent revealed he was in agony after testing positive for coronavirus — months after he said the virus was “not a real pandemic.” “I thought I was dying,” Nugent says in a Facebook live video posted Monday. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)
Ted Nugent, who once dismissed COVID-19, sickened by virus

Rocker a supporter of ex-President Donald Trump

Gwynne Dyer
Bolsonaro: Suicide by COVID

‘Rounding into the home stretch, it’s Italy by a full length, then… Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth II during her visit to Red Deer, June 28, 1990. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer and the Royal Family

The recent passing and funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Tanner Pearson, right, celebrates after scoring against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie David Rittich during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Friday, April 16, 2021. (Peter Powell/Pool via AP)
Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Most Read