Colin Perkel, Canadian Press, 7 May 2010
TORONTO – Canadian authorities are accusing an Egyptian man who is under stringent house arrest as a threat to national security of breaching his bail conditions for having plastic toy guns in his home.
In a move Mahmoud Jaballah’s son denounced as ridiculous, the Canada Border Services Agency is asking the courts to seize more than $43,000 in bail money and force sureties to pay another $56,000.
Court documents obtained by The Canadian Press show agents searched Jaballah’s family home in Toronto last month — prompted by a wiretap of a phone call between one of his children and a friend.
The agency maintains the pellet guns, two of which were found in the master bedroom, are considered imitation weapons, which Jaballah is barred from possessing, the documents show.
The search also turned up a PlayStation Portable and a computer in the bedroom of his 12-year-old son, Ali. Under the bail conditions, such items are supposed to be kept in a locked computer room.
The PlayStation had a wireless Internet connection, and the computer had an ethernet jack, making them both capable of an Internet connection, the agency alleges.
“This incident is indicative of an ongoing disregard by Jaballah and his supervisors for the court’s order,” the CBSA states in calling for the bail money to be forfeited.
The government alleges Jaballah was a member of an Egyptian terrorist group. He has been subject to three national security certificates, which allow indefinite detention without charge or trial, since 1999.
The father of six was released under strict bail conditions in 2007 after six years in jail.
In an interview, Jaballah’s eldest son Ahmad, 26, who lives in the home, called the agency’s position absurd and denied any breach of the bail conditions.
The pellet guns were clearly plastic toys with plastic pellets children use to shoot at each other, he said.
“There’s nothing in the conditions that say the kids can’t have toy guns in the house,” Ahmad Jaballah said.
In an affidavit in support of the allegations, a CBSA agent stated that he did not remember telling a supervisor that the pistols “looked like toys.”
“If I did in fact use that language, it was not meant to be indicative of CBSA’s position on the issue,” the agent, Mohammad Al-Shalchi, said in the statement.
Ahmad Jaballah said the computer could not connect to the Internet because there was no modem present.
Despite the family’s best efforts at monitoring the home, his younger brother wanted to take the PlayStation to school and simply forgot it in his bedroom, he said.
“That’s a mistake on his part, but kids are kids,” Ahmad Jaballah said.
“This is a family household. It’s not a prison. There’s kids in the house, they need to live their lives. They need to grow up like other kids.”
Jaballah’s lawyers said the clear plastic guns were hidden in the master bedroom by his wife because she wanted her son to catch up on his schoolwork before playing with them.
Another national certificate detainee, Mohammad Mahjoub, opted in March 2009 to return to prison rather than subject his wife and family to the onerous bail conditions.
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