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Iranian-trained Montreal imam’s passport revoked

Montreal imam has passport revoked; was once named as ‘subject of interest’ in probe

 | February 11, 2015 | Last Updated: Feb 11 8:21 AM ET
More from Stewart Bell | @StewartBellNP

Federal officials have revoked the passport of an Iranian-trained Montreal imam once described by the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team as a “subject of interest in an ongoing investigation.”

Ali Sbeiti, who was born in Iraq but has been a Canadian citizen since 1991, was notified in a Nov. 19 letter that his passport had been “invalidated” and that Passport Canada was reviewing his “eligibility for passport services.”

The four-page letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada advised Mr. Sbeiti he could no longer use his passport and that he had to return it immediately. While it cited federal regulations, the letter did not explain why the action was taken.

But internal government documents show that the Mounties have expressed interest in Mr. Sbeiti since 2009. He was also flagged by the Passport Canada security bureau after he altered his passport by trying to remove a sticker from one of the pages in 2007.

Mr. Sbeiti could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Mitchell Goldberg, was unable to comment, his office said. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s spokesman, Kevin Menard, said he could not comment on specific cases but that the government “will not hesitate to take action to protect Canadians from the threat posed by jihadi terrorists.”(…)

A 46-year-old Shi’ite cleric, Mr. Sbeiti was born in Najaf, Iraq, and studied religion in Lebanon and Iran, according to the Centre Communautaire Musulman de Montreal website, which identifies him as its imam, although a person who answered the centre’s phone said he no longer worked there.

“He immigrated to Montreal, Canada, in 1988 and went back to Qom, Iran, to continue his religious studies. Few years after he came back to Canada to serve the community,” it said. He founded “associations and community centres all across Canada,” including in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, Edmonton and Vancouver, the CCMM biography said, adding he was an “active member of several committees and bodies involved in the community and religious activities across North America.”

(…)

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