Two men named by U.S. as al-Qaida suspects believed to have left Canada

Saturday, January 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MONTREAL (AP) _ A Canadian man identified as a potential al-Qaida suicide attacker was quiet and kept to himself before moving out of his apartment _ and reportedly leaving the country _ last year, a former neighbor said.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Al Rauf bin Al Habib Bin Yousef al-Jiddi was not in Canada, and little other information was available about the Tunisian-born man who obtained Canadian citizenship in 1995.

Al-Jiddi, 36, was identified Friday by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as the fifth man in videotapes found in the rubble of the residence of Mohammad Atef _ reportedly Osama bin Laden's military chief who U.S. officials say was killed in a November U.S. air strike.

The other four were identified when Ashcroft first made the videotapes public last week. In the tapes, all five were leaving suicide messages.

Ashcroft said a photograph of al-Jiddi also was recovered from the rubble, along with a suicide letter by al-Jiddi from August 1999. In the letter, al-Jiddi pledged to die in battle against infidels, according to information released by U.S. authorities.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported a second man named by Ashcroft as a possible accomplice _ another Tunisian-born Canadian named Faker Boussora _ left Canada with al-Jiddi on a flight to Europe in November. Boussora obtained his Canadian passport last October. No other information about him was available.

``Both individuals should be considered extremely dangerous,'' Ashcroft said, adding that he lacked any information on their whereabouts. ``As a result, we are publicizing their photographs worldwide.''

At a four-story apartment building on Montreal's east side listed as al-Jiddi's last known address in Canada, a woman living in a ground-floor unit identified his photograph as the ``tall man'' who lived upstairs until late last year.

The woman, who refused to give her name for security reasons, said the man rarely spoke and kept to himself. She said a second man living in the apartment remained after the ``tall man'' left.

No one answered the door at the unit where the man lived, though a pair of boots were lying outside. Knocks on other doors in the building also went unanswered Friday night.

Al-Jiddi arrived in Canada in April 1991 and obtained citizenship in October 1995. His passport bears the name Abderraouf Jdey, and he also is known as Farouq Al-Tunisi.

According to the CBC, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had al-Jiddi under surveillance before he left the country but lacked sufficient cause to detain him. Ashcroft credited Canadian authorities Friday for helping identify al-Jiddi.

A CSIS spokeswoman refused to comment on any details about al-Jiddi, only saying that the agency was cooperating fully with the FBI. Immigration officials and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police referred all inquiries to CSIS.

The announcement that suspected terrorists were living in Montreal evoked memories of Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian convicted last year of plotting to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport. A Montreal resident, Ressam was arrested in December 1999 trying to enter the United States with bomb-making material in the trunk of his car.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States blamed on bin Laden, Canada and the United States have agreed to a series of joint measures intended to bolster security along their 4,000-mile border without harming trade between them worth more than $1 billion a day.

U.S. President Bush announced Friday he would seek about $11 billion in spending on border security next year, an increase of $2.1 billion over this year.