Mar. 25, 2004. 01:00 AM
Canadian detained in Iraq
Relatives say Kurds are holding him

Friends visited by CSIS after he left

MICHELLE SHEPHARD
STAFF REPORTER

Another Canadian citizen has been detained abroad and federal security agents visited his friends, days after he left Toronto, the Star has learned.

Iraqi-born Aumar Alsorani is being held in Irbil, Iraq, and questioned, but not charged, according to his friends.

Marie-Christine Lilkoff, spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs, said the department is aware of the case but since there is no consulate in Iraq, it's difficult to get information or to extend assistance. Lilkoff said she does not know who is holding Alsorani in Iraq's northern Kurdish region.

"As far as we know we're not aware of any charges," Lilkoff said, adding that there is a travel advisory for all Canadians not to visit Iraq.

According to friends, Alsorani, a 31-year-old Scarborough resident who worked odd construction jobs since coming to Canada in the mid-1990s, left Toronto on Feb. 12 to visit family in Iraq and planned on returning in early April. When he didn't arrive in his home town of Sulaymaniya, Iraq, his uncle phoned Alsorani's friend Khalid Salih in Toronto.

"They wanted to know if we could help because he's Canadian," Salih said yesterday. "I don't understand what's the problem and why they've put him in jail."

Salih said relatives told him Kurdish officials were holding Alsorani in Irbil, but that they did not know exactly where he was detained. Once he learned of his friend's detainment, Salih called Alsorani's friends in Scarborough's tight-knit Iraqi community.

That's when he heard a Canadian Security Intelligence Service agent, who identified himself only as Mike, visited one of Alsorani's friends in late February. Shortly after that call, Mike agreed to meet Salih in a coffee shop.

"He asked questions about (Alsorani), like why did he go there (to Iraq); do you know anything about him; does he belong to any groups?" Salih said. The agent then asked about Salih himself, specifically referring to a telephone call that was made from his phone in 2000, which Salih said he couldn't remember. He also asked if he knew Scarborough Imam Aly Hindy.

The outspoken imam's name has been raised in numerous security cases in the past. Most recently it was brought up during the interrogation of another Iraqi-born Scarborough resident, Muayyed Nureddin, who was held in a Syrian prison for more than a month and questioned in part about his relationship with Hindy.

Nureddin was also asked about Subhat Allah Rasul, who read the prayer sessions at the Islamic Centre where Hindy is imam, and Hassan Farhat, a landed immigrant from Iraq who also prayed at the centre but left Canada in October, 2001, after repeatedly being denied Canadian citizenship.

Rasul is the father of Saeed Sobrhatolla Muhammad, 29. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) militia told the Star last spring that Muhammad was a member of Ansar al-Islam, the group Washington said provided a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime.

He has been missing for more than a year.

 Pay less than $3 per week for 7 day home delivery.




Legal Notice: Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved. Distribution, transmission or republication of any material from www.thestar.com is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. For information please contact us using our webmaster form. www.thestar.com online since 1996.