Editors’ Note: On March 29, Canadian police raided the Ottawa home of Mahboob Khawaja, arrested his son based on an indictment from Britain and asked Saudi police to detain Khawaja, who was teaching in Saudi Arabia. No bomb-making materials were discovered in the search. Khawaja was released two weeks later by Saudi police. Here is his account of these startling events.
North American governments cherishing liberal democratic values were supposed to be opposing terrorism, not inflicting on their own citizens. Across the globe, by virtue of aggressive policy behavior, many democratic regimes are attempting to discard human rights and sabotage the effectiveness of human growth and civilizations. People of knowledge and wisdom must realize that police action and armed assault do not produce peace, social harmony and justice, and for sure, guns and bullets destroy all living things. When people produce products and services, societies and nations grow and prosper. People and markets grow in freedom, not in fear. Canadian intelligence services are using the logic of power, whereas, in democratic Canada, people would prefer an argument based on the power of logic and facts. Being big does not frighten the enlightened masses. When the educated and responsible citizens are mistreated and portrayed as an evil, history calls it the beginning to end of the repressive era. President Harry Truman made a candid observation:
“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”
North American citizens of Japanese origin waited half a century to see the official apology for their mistreatment by Canada and America during the Second World War. Should the Muslims be treated likewise? History sees nations by their actions, not by their claims. Could we, the people of living conscience, take specific intelligent and proactive steps to reverse the prospective historical blunders?
Facts are known, but the political reasons for the police action are unknown. On March 29, the RCMP/CSIS anti-terrorist squad raided my family home in Orleans, Ontario (Canada), in search of “bomb-making” materials but found no evidence to support the accusations or reasons for the search warrant. Nobody knows the validity of the Search Warrant as it was not shown to the family during the armed search.
From all the available factual information, we believe that we were targeted because we are Muslim. Most of the newspapers highlighted the religious and political derogatory in headlines, contents and ultimate objectivity to bridge the gap between the heavens and earth in split second and presented “Muslim” and “Terror” as one and the same thing.
It was a movie style attack with 40 plus masked gunmen accompanying international news media glitz. They smashed the doors, damaged other property, and arrested the family members at gunpoint, all to log in the proper entry data for the new Project Awaken.
“Is your house booby-trapped?” “Where are the explosives?” asked the armed guards.
My shaken son could not understand what was going on at that particular moment in time clock? Could it be a rehearsal scene from a violent Hollywood movie? Or perhaps there is some mix-up in the address that is why the armed squad are pointing guns at me? “Don’t move, don’t move,” shouted the masked men.
It must be unreal, thought my daughter, who was horrified and became numb by the masked intruders, who tied her hands behind and asked her to remain silent. My wife went to do grocery, not knowing, our children will not consume it at breakfast and lunch. There will be no time allowed to children to take foods, as this was the new law and order. The lady officers of the invading army picked her up from the store, and younger sons were called out of the classrooms.
My wife in Ottawa, frightened and speechless woke me up in Arabia during the early morning hours on March 30, to inform that our house was under police raid. The female escort officer was Cpl. Sherdina; I asked her, what is the problem officer? She replied in cellular phone, “we have a house search warrant for bomb-making material.” No officer, I said, there must be something wrong, we are not the people in this kind of business. She promised that some senior officer would call me with more information. That has not happen until this day.
Like a violent tornado, they destroyed in minutes, what took us years to build – the human dignity, social well being and living together in a civilized community of educated people. The law enforcement agencies follow the laws written in books for the human society. Legal stipulations are composed of paper and dry ink, do not have a mind, heart and consideration on their own, but those who implement it, do. Our experience clearly shows that we were treated like the sub-human citizens living in 21st century Canada. The RCMP/CSIS armed raid was an exactly replicated action of the American troops behavior against the Iraqi civilians. Recently, Erich Murquardt (” US Prisoner Abuse Scandal”, PINR, May 11, 2004), noted:
“arresting authorities entered houses usually after dark, breaking down doors, yelling orders, forcing family members under military guardfurther breaking the cabinetsinsulting, taking aims with rifles”
But there was no war going on in Orleans (Canada), why did the RCMP/CSIS act like they were fighting in a war zone? Was this show of Armada force necessary to the public interest? Most of our immediate neighbors were outraged at the massive display of force: 40 plus RCMP armed squad, aiming loaded guns at the ordinary law-abiding citizens, just to implement the house search warrant for 8-10 hours. It defies the logic and necessity. Other voices of reason and concerns were loud and clear throughout the local neighborhood community.
I hold an academic position in Arabia. The Canadian Government requested Saudi Arabia to arrest me. They portrayed me, an academic in strategic studies and Western-Islamic civilizations, as an alleged “terrorist” and “bomb-maker” on global TV networks. Those who saw and heard it, must have believed in it. My professional integrity and lifelines were cut into pieces.
The Canadian supplied document served as the working charge sheet. It took two weeks of unpleasant captivity to be freed again without charges. The Canadian Government denies it ever asked for my arrest. The available documentary evidence speaks its own language of truth.
Does the Canadian Government ever lie? Eric Hoffer must have felt the same sensitivity:
“those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.”
I have asked the Honorable Minister of Justice in Canada to tell me the reasons for this unwarranted and unjustifiable RCMP raid against my family and human dignity. She has yet to reply. The Canadian Government was supposed to oppose terrorism, not inflict on us. Some tragedies have no smoke or flames to describe the intensity. Our tragedy is explicitly an outcome of ignorance, misinformation and incompetence on the part of the intelligence police apparatus.
Undoubtedly, the RCMP/CSIS are dismayed; we showed no confusing reaction to their aggressive and inhuman stunt against law-abiding citizens. We are civilized people, not monkeys to imitate them. Our perspectives articulate logic, truth and integrity as the primary tools for public communication, enabling us to reason the unreason. Their contentions of “terrorism” and “bomb-making” continued to draw hollow laughter in academic circles, and are viewed by informed media as a satirical staged soap opera, and their ambiguous explanatory assertions ignored by the well-informed public. With a large number of masked gunmen on display, they wanted to make the spectators believe in their charge sheet, linking us to “terrorism”, but they failed badly to find any evidence to support the allegations.
Their failure could be witnessed from the sound of the shackles they put on my son Momin’s feet, to show an innocent and intelligent person of high moral and professional integrity, as guilty of something logic cannot comprehend. Interestingly enough, nobody knows, including the government, what he is guilty of? To the public eye, a chained Momin Khawaja will portray the image of a threat to society. This image of Muslims is readily available in police warehouses to analyze the merits of Project Awaken as relevant and feasible.
Canadians are well known as being softhearted, sporty-spirited, friendly people with an appreciable sense of humor, complemented by their own brand taste of Molson beer. But when you ask a plain, non-satirical question from the responsible Minister or from the intelligence agencies, they may surprise you with a strange and non-conformant response to confirm the prevalent Peter Principle across the board. Ironically enough, it seems that the elite offenders do generate noticeable attention in the free news media including the political scripted popular CBC Canadian Farce. When the authorities are asked to comment on the public outrage against their unethical behavior toward the citizens, they carefully orchestrate one sentence of non-reactive humor, taking sanctuary in “no comments.”
Once Voltaire noted: “So long as the people do not care to exercise their freedom, those who wish to tyrannize will do so; for tyrants are active and ardent, and will devote themselves in the name of any number of gods, religious and otherwise, to put shackles upon sleeping men.”
Mahboob A. Khawaja is an academic who specializes in strategic studies with an interest in comparative civilizations. He is the author of Muslims and the West: Quest for Change and Conflict Resolution.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.