July 11, 2006

July 11, 2006: Assem Hammoud, Concordia, Illegal Cdn. Passport

Montreal grad fingered in N.Y. Plot
Suspected ringleader studied at Concordia
Katherine Wilton, with files from Jason Fekete, CanWest, July 10, 2006

MONTREAL - The man suspected of being the mastermind behind a plot to blow up tunnels in New York City graduated from Montreal's Concordia University with a bachelor of commerce in finance in 2002, a university official confirmed yesterday.

... from 1995 to 2002. He majored in finance and had a minor in international business, said university spokeswoman Chris Mota. [....]

Mr. Hammoud, 31, a Lebanese national, was detained in Beirut in April and interrogated by the FBI. U.S. officials contend Mr. Hammoud and seven others conspired to kill thousands of people by sending suicide bombers into tunnels under the Hudson River that transport commuters into Manhattan.

They say the group had hoped to carry out the attacks on the Holland Tunnel in October and November. Mr. Hammoud taught economics at the Lebanese International University in Beirut prior to his arrest.

Terror plot suspect attended university in Montreal: official -- false passport -- stolen Canadian passport? July 8, 06, JIm Bronskill and Bill Graveland

[....] The source told CP on Saturday that neither the 31-year-old Hammoud nor his parents are Canadian citizens - meaning that if he did ever travel on a Canadian passport, the document was a fake. [See post on missing Canadian passports -- David Harris]

Nor has Foreign Affairs received a request for assistance from Hammoud, as might be expected when a Canadian passport holder runs into trouble abroad.

[....] travelled to New York and New Jersey on several occasions using a Canadian passport to survey possible targets.

The Beirut-based television station also said Hammoud was recruited into al-Qaida in 1994 while he was in Canada.

[....] His mother, Nabila Qotob, confirmed ... he did not hold a Canadian passport. [....]

Muslim leader doubts Cdn link of accused terrorist -- "I don't remember him at all," Elmenyawi, of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said Sunday. "I was there at this time, leading prayers, and I don't remember him at all." Dene Moore and Him Bronskill, July 9, 06

MONTREAL (CP) - A prominent member of Montreal's Muslim community says he does not believe that a man suspected in an alleged New York terrorist plot has any connection to Canada.

Salam Elmenyawi said that despite reports that Assem Hammoud studied at the city's Concordia University, he led prayers at the university mosque during the period in question and does not recall Hammoud or anyone who looked like him.

[....] But Elmenyawi said U.S. authorities are determined to put some of the blame on Canada ever since it was revealed that would-be millennium bomber Ahmed Ressam spent some time in Montreal before attempting to drive into the U.S. from British Columbia.

"This is a paranoia, a witch hunt that is totally unfair," he said.

Likely, the next words we will hear from some Muslims: He was a good boy ... attended prayers at a mosque ... Of course, Canada is racist, Islamophobic ... and a few other negatives ... yet, the scum of the world fight for years to stay here ... and under the system set up by the former governments, they win. See Harkat post.


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