Two days after the terror strikes in the United States, one of the 200 people later sought and arrested by the FBI in connection with the attacks skipped his court appearance in St. Catharines on charges of possession of a false passport.
Kuwaiti Nabil Al-Marabh, 35, who was arrested near Chicago Wednesday, had lived with his uncle in the Toronto neighborhood of Parkdale for about six years.
According to Canadian immigration documents, Al-Marabh filed for refugee status and was refused in 1994. He was ordered deported and left for the United States in 1995. There, he lived for a time in Boston, where he worked as a cab driver before being convicted of assaulting a roommate with a knife in May 2000. In January 2001, he once again illegally re-entered Canada.
Despite run-ins with police and immigration authorities in both the United States and Canada, Al-Marabh was able to slip back and forth across the border until he was arrested again, this time by Canadian authorities when he tried to get back into the United States at Niagara Falls in June, after hiding in the back of a tractor trailer. Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers then took him to St. Catharines where he was charged and released on bail posted by his uncle.
"How does releasing a failed refugee claimant with this kind of history keep us safe from terrorism?" opposition politician Grant Hill of the Canadian Alliance Party asked.
Canadian Immigration Minister Elinor Caplan replied that while her department has the power to detain anyone who is suspected to be a security risk, until the recent events, Canadian authorities had no knowledge that Al-Marabh was a risk.
But U.S. police officials have reported finding "a pretty solid financial link" between Al-Marabh and Raed Hijazi, a former Boston cab driver who was convicted in Jordan of participating in an aborted plot to blow up tourist sites and hotels there.
Meanwhile, Al-Marabh's uncle, Ahmad Shehab, a part-time Muslim cleric who still lives in Toronto, has been devastated by the attacks and terrified at the thought he may be the target of retribution.
In a separate case, prosecutors in Illinois have unsealed charges against another man held in Canada as a result of the global sweep of suspected terrorists.
Though the U.S. charges do not directly link Syrian-born Nageeb Abdul Jabar Mohamed Al-Hadi to the Sept. 11 attacks, he was flying aboard the German airliner Lufthansa on a Frankfurt-to-Chicago flight that day when he became one of the 30,000 passengers on 247 planes that were diverted to Canada from U.S. airports.
During their investigations of all the diverted passengers, police in Toronto discovered Al-Hadi was traveling with a ticket under a different name and carrying three different passports from Yemen, each with a separate name, number and date of issue.
In his luggage, investigators found two Lufthansa crew uniforms, an airline ID card and a paper with Arabic writing.
He was charged with possessing and attempting to use a false passport, and remains behind bars in Canada.