TORONTO – A Pakistani man Canadian authorities suspect of plotting to blow up the U.S. consulate and buildings in Toronto’s financial district and videotape the attacks was ordered kept in custody on Wednesday pending deportation.
Jahanzeb Malik, who came to Canada as a student in 2004, was ordered detained on “security grounds” following a hearing before the Immigration and Refugee Board.
The Canada Border Services Agency arrested Malik, 33, on Monday in Toronto following a lengthy investigation by Canadian security and anti-terrorism personnel, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said in Ottawa.
At the hearing Wednesday, a lawyer for the immigration minister said an undercover RCMP officer befriended Malik.
“Malik attempted to radicalize the undercover officer by showing him videos apparently of (Islamic State) beheadings,” Jessica Lourenco alleged.
“He told the undercover officer about his plan to build remote-controlled bombs to blow up the U.S. consulate and other buildings in the financial district of Toronto.”
Lourenco accused Malik, who has travelled frequently between Canada and Pakistan, of planning to videotape the bombings to encourage others to carry out similar attacks.
Canadian authorities allege Malik to be a self-proclaimed supporter of the Islamic State who also claims to be a “personal friend” of American Anwar Al-Awlaki, a top-ranking member of the terrorist organization al-Qaida who was killed in Yemen by a U.S. drone strike.
They also say he has taken “weapons, combat and landmine training” in Libya.
In opting to keep him in custody, the board member presiding over the hearing determined Malik, a permanent resident since 2009, to be a flight risk and a public danger.
Malik, who faces no criminal charges, appeared via video conference from detention at the Lindsay, Ont., jail.
He will appear for another detention hearing on Monday. His lawyer was not immediately available to comment.
The border agency said it expected more information because the investigation was still ongoing.
It had no immediate comment.
Malik’s lawyer, Anser Farooq, decried the process:
“You can’t have determination — which we as Canadians should demand — of charges of this nature in immigration hearings,” Farooq told The Canadian Press.
“(People) who faced similar allegations in the criminal court would not have been able to clear their names absent the checks and balance afforded in our criminal justice system.”
It remains unclear why Canadian authorities are moving to deport Malik rather than charge him criminally, as they did, for example, in the case of two foreign nationals accused of plotting to blow up a passenger train en route from New York to Toronto.
Blaney refused to comment on “operational matters” but said the RCMP had made it clear it believes Malik was “willing to commit a terrorist attack on Canadian soil.”