Friday, October 5, 2001
The Price of safety can be cruel
The Toronto Sun
It’s possible, one supposes, but quite unlikely, that Nageeb Al- Hadi was simply getting an early jump on Halloween preparations.
That would, at least, be one innocent explanation as to why two Lufthansa uniforms were found in the Yemeni man’s unclaimed luggage on the day of the World Trade Center disaster. It would not, however, explain why he would be carrying three passports with his picture on them. Under three different names.
Earlier this week, the bearded, youthful- looking man wept and begged to tell his story from beginning to end.
Yesterday, however, a much calmer Al- Hadi opted to allow his lawyer to do the talking.
His tale, from what we know if it, is a bizarre one. Al- Hai was en route from Frankfurt to Chicago on September 11 when the air attacks occurred. His plane was diverted to Toronto after all the U.S. airports were shut down for the day. He was detained here when officials discovered the false paperwork.
When his luggage finally did arrive at the other end, a search turned up the German airline uniforms, an identification card and a piece of paper with Arabic writing sewn into the pocket of a pair of pants.
While Al- Hadi has yet to be charged with anything, it is expected that he will be the subject of an extradition request by the United States.
In the meantime, much of yesterday’s preceding centered on a rant by his lawyer about the unjust treatment his client has received at the hands of the Ontario correctional service.
Gary Batasar complained that Al- Hadi was being kept in isolation and has been denied treatment for a mysterious medical condition, as well as access to a phone.
‚Äö√Ñ√∫It certainly doesn’t bode well on us (as a nation) to have his man in custody with no charges pending,‚Äö√Ñ√π said Batasar, who added that he was refused a visit with Al- Hadi at the West Detention Centre on Wednesday. ‚Äö√Ñ√∫That’s something that I;m very distressed about,‚Äö√Ñ√π he told Justice Brian Trafford.
For what it’s worth, I disagree with Mr. Batasar. I think it bodes quite nicely on us as a nation to be taking a cautious approach to someone found in Mr. Al- Hadi’s situation.
In the ordinary course of events, Batasar might have a point, but these are far from ordinary times. He may as well be housed in segregation, but it’s probably for his own protection, not as a punitive measure.
At this point, nobody, with the possible exception of Osama bin Laden, knows exactly what we’re dealing with, how far the terrorist plots extended and whether the threat has actually passes.
Until planes stop falling mysteriously from the sky, the rest of us have to assume that everyone is still at risk. And if that assumption tramples on a few civil rights of people travelling under mysterious circumstances, then that’s the price of safety.
Al- Hadi won’t be posing a real or perceived threat to anyone any time soon. The U.S. government has until November 19 to make their case and, while October 25 has been set for a bail hearing, it’s safe to assume he may be viewed as a flight risk.
Al- Hadi insists he’s the victim here- the target of a possible elaborate plot. It’s possible.. it’s possible that he is a two- bit passport forger delivering some uniforms for a friend, who just happened to be travelling to the United States on the same day of the disaster. And if that’s the case, then he’s the unluckiest petty criminal around.