TORONTO (AP) — A Palestinian man convicted of hijacking an airliner in Greece in 1968 has been deported from Canada 26 years after entering the country using an alias, the immigration minister said Monday.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the case "made a mockery of Canada's generosity and our fair immigration system for two and a half decades."
Kenney said Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad made a false refugee claim in 1987. The government learned a year later that he was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and had participated in a terrorist attack on an El Al Israeli plane in which an Israeli citizen was killed. Kenney said Mohammad and another man stormed a plane and threw grenades and fired live rounds at civilians.
Mohammad was convicted in Greece in 1970 of manslaughter and sentenced to 17 years in prison, but he was freed before completing his sentence as part of a deal to resolve another hijacking.
Kenney said Mohammad, 70, was deported to Lebanon on Saturday after living in southern Ontario since 1987. Kenney said Mohammad was deported to Lebanon because his wife is Lebanese and he has residence there.
Kenney called the case a "comedy of errors" and said Canada "will no longer be treated like suckers by terrorists."
He said under new immigration laws enacted by his Conservative government he would have never been allowed to stay in Canada for so long. Mohammad was able to use 12 or more appeals and loopholes under old laws to remain in Canada, he said.
"There were 26 years of considerations given to Mr. Mohammad and finally our legal system decided that he could be deported," Kenney said.
The Canadian government chartered a plane and a medical team went with Mohammad so he could not claim he was suffering from something like heart trouble and have the plane turn around, Kenney said. Mohammad has undisclosed health issues.