The Federal Court of Canada has upheld a ruling by immigration officials that denied entry to the country by a Palestinian national because he was affiliated with Fatah, which it described as a terrorist group.
In a February ruling recently made public, the court found that the Immigration Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board was right to deny entry to Akram Muslih Anteer because he was once a member of Fatah, the largest political party in the West Bank.
The court upheld a definition of Fatah as a “terrorist” group, even though it is not recognized as such by the federal government.
Anteer, a national of the Palestinian Authority and resident of Sweden, arrived in Canada in April 2013 and claimed refugee status.
The Immigration Division (ID) of the IRB believed he was a member of Fatah, “and that Fatah is an organization that engages, has engaged, or will engage in terrorist acts,” stated the ruling by Judge Cecily Strickland.
“The ID found that the evidence established that Fatah was a terrorist organization.” It determined that Anteer was inadmissible on security grounds and in June 2015, he was returned to Sweden.
Anteer then sought a judicial review of his case.
The court noted that when he was interviewed by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) at the port of entry, Anteer denied being a citizen or resident of any other country. He said he had resided in Israel and Jordan from 2002 to 2012, that his last permanent residence was Jordan, and acknowledged that he was a member of Fatah.
In May 2013 and January 2014, Anteer was further questioned by a CBSA inland enforcement officer and, the court said, provided his membership card for the Palestine National Liberation Movement, also known as Fatah, with an expiry date of August 2012.
The court noted that Anteer initially stated that he had joined Fatah when he was 10 years old and later stated that he joined “when Oslo took place,” which the enforcement officer “thought likely meant the signing of the Oslo accords by Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1993.”
Anteer said he had achieved “cadre level” of membership in Fatah, the court found.
“He also described his role within Fatah, which included identifying and intercepting opponents of Fatah and working with high ranking Fatah officials, and stated that he reported to the head of Fatah in the Jenin area, Ata Abu Rumeila.”
The CBSA officer noted that Rumeila was the reputed head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AAMB) in Jenin. The group was added to Canada’s list of terror groups in 2003.
“The documentary evidence is clear that Fatah engaged in acts of violence and terrorism both before the denunciation of terrorism in 1989 and, through the AAMB, during the second intifadah from 2000 to at least 2007,” the ruling stated.
The IRB said it is “likely” that Fatah “did not entirely disassociate itself from acts of terrorism against the Israeli state, even after renouncing armed struggle, and that the most notorious faction within Fatah, the AAMB, did not exist separately from Fatah as a whole.”
There was “sufficient evidence to ground the [IRB’s] conclusion that Fatah was a terrorist organization,” the ruling stated.
The court noted that Anteer also said he was at the late Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat’s compound when it was under siege by Israel in 2002, was wounded, and was subsequently held at an Israeli detention centre until released in 2005.
He was arrested twice more by Israeli forces, and in 2009, was expelled from Israel and removed to Jordan.
The court said Anteer denied Fatah was a terrorist group and that he engaged in or promoted acts of terror. That he is no longer a member of Fatah “is not relevant,” the court ruled, adding that he remained a member until at least 2012.
The IRB’s decision to deny Anteer entry was “reasonable,” the court ruled and dismissed his request for a judicial review.