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Quebec blocks Abdelrazik's child benefits

Abousfian Abdelrazik at home in Montreal in September, 2009, playing with his 6-year-old son, Kouteyba.

Tory Zimmerman/The Globe and Mail/Tory Zimmerman/The Globe and Mail

Quebec has blocked government child-benefit payments to Abousfian Abdelrazik, the only Canadian on the UN's al-Qaeda blacklist, saying Ottawa must get written permission from the UN Security Council in New York before it will issue the monthly cheques every other Canadian parent is entitled to receive.

"It makes no sense that I have to ask [the UN]in New York for permission to feed my kids," Mr. Abdelrazik said. He is entitled to $183 a month for a preschool-age son, born in Khartoum but who is a Canadian and was repatriated after Mr. Abdelrazik returned to Montreal. He has also applied for child-benefit payments for his teenage daughter. Another son is in the custody of a former wife and an adult stepdaughter lives with him.

Mr. Abdelrazik has never been charged with a crime in Canada, although he was targeted as a possible al-Qaeda operative and followed by Canadian counterterrorism agents for years. He is the only Canadian on the UN's terrorist blacklist, called the 1267 list after the number of the Security Council resolution, co-sponsored by Canada, that created it in 1999.

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For years, the Canadian government blocked Mr. Abdelrazik's return to Montreal, saying the UN sanctions allowed it to refuse him a passport. After a federal court judge ruled the government had violated Mr. Abdelrazik's constitutional right of return, the Harper government allowed Mr. Abdelrazik back into the country in 2009 but kept him on the domestic no-fly list.

Mr. Abdelrazik spent nearly six years in forced exile in Sudan, including more than two years in prison where, he claims, he was tortured.

He is currently suing the federal government and former foreign minister Lawrence Cannon for $27-million, claiming Canadian agents arranged for his imprisonment in Khartoum and were complicit in his torture.

The UN blacklist "violates the most fundamental human rights, indefinitely stripping people of their liberty without trial or charge … and the government in Quebec is going along with it," said Brian Aboud, a member of Project Fly Home, a Montreal-based group of activists who paid for Mr. Abdelrazik's ticket home.

Canada's enforcement of UN 1267 sanctions means Mr. Abdelrazik cannot work – because it would be a crime to pay him – and his assets, including the estate of his former wife who died of cancer, have been seized.

Mr. Abdelrazik has applied to be "delisted" under a new procedure. Canadian jurist and former war crimes tribunal judge Kimberly Prost serves as ombudsperson for delisting applications and is expected to make a recommendation on Mr. Abdelrazik's application this fall. Even if she urges delisting, any Security Council member state can veto it.

"It's extremely difficult to have your life entrapped in this kind of a web," said Paul Champ, the Ottawa lawyer who successfully argued Mr. Abdelrazik's case in Federal Court.

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Mr. Abdelrazik admits that he knew and associated with a number of fellow Muslims living in Montreal in the 1990s, including Ahmed Ressam, the al-Qaeda trained Millennium bomber, apprehended as he headed for Los Angles to blow up its airport. Mr. Abdelrazik, who came to Canada as a political refugee, also says he has visited Pakistan, Bosnia and the Caucasus but only on humanitarian missions. U.S. security agencies accuse him of being an al-Qaeda facilitator and operative.

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International Affairs and Security Correspondent

Paul More

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