October 3, 2001
Yemeni man tells court there is a plotto get him
Nageeb Al- Hadi, detained September 11, begs to tell his whole story
The Toronto Star
A Yemeni man detained in Toronto on the same day as the World Trade Centre attacks said in court that there’s a plot to get him.
In rambling comments, delivered at times in English, but mostly through an Arab interpreter, Nageeb Al- Hadi- who is facing U.S. charges relating to misuse of a visa and passport fraud- begged Mr. Justice Brian Trafford for the opportunity to tell his story from “beginning to end.”
“If I don’t make it clear now, I’ll be in serious trouble. I’m not like those people you think of,” Al- Hadi said.
He did not elaborate or explain who was behind the plotagainst him.
He went on to say he wants to be tried in his native country.
Trafford told Al- Hadi, who is expected to be the subject of a U.S. extradition request, that he would be better off waiting until tomorrow when his lawyer is present, before delving into details of his case.
But Al- Hadi persisted, complaining about a litany of issues, including the fact that he has been kept in isolation and not allowed to use the telephone.
He was remanded until tomorrow because his lawyer, Gary Batasar, was unable to attend court yesterday. He was led out of the courtroom in tears, speaking in Arabic.
Outside the courtroom, Abdulla Al- Montaser, counsel at the Yemen embassy in Ottawa, said his office has confirmed Al- Hadi’s identity, but is unclear when the accused man was last in Yemen. Al- Montaser said Al- Hadi has been charged in Yemen with obtaining a passport under a false name.
In an interview after the brief hearing, Batasar maintained Al- Hadi is the victim of circumstance and is not a terrorist.
Batasar, who says he was contacted by Yemeni consular officials here because had represented individuals from that country in other, unrelated matters, said he plans to find out why his client is being held in isolation.
As of yesterday afternoon, Batasar hadn’t been formally retained, and hadn’t spoken to his client.
Al- Hadi has admitted to Canadian intelligence officers that he made at least one fake passport, but said he had wished to re- enter the U.S. to try to revive his green- card status.
When he was detained, he was carrying three passports, all with his own photograph.
One is expired, another is current but in a slightly different name, and one is in the name of a man Al- Hadi had told investigators is his grandfather.
But Al- Hadi has strongly denied any involvement in the devastating attacks in the U.S.
No mention of any connection to terrorism has been made in any of the documents filed by Canadian or U.S. officials in court relations to Al- Hadi’s case.
But Al- Hadi raised eye browns among investigators on both sides of the border when Lufthansa flight crew uniforms were found in his unclaimed luggage on a flight that arrived September 11 in Chicago the day of the air attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The separate Frankfort- to- Chicago flight that Al- Hadi was on never made it to Chicago because it was diverted to Toronto after all U.S. airports were shut down that day.
A Lufthansa official told The Star last week that Al- Hadi worked as a ticker- counter agent for a firm in Yemen that was contracted by the airline.
The contract ended in 1998, and the spokesperson for the airline could not explain why Al- Hadi would have the uniforms.