|In Gatineau Quebec, Canada the wife of an accused terrorist vowed yesterday to keep standing by her man - despite staggering legal costs and the possibility of facing death along with him in Algeria. |
Mohamed Harkat's addiction to blackjack cost the family car, Sophie Lamarche Harkat said. His skyrocketing legal fees will cost a second mortgage on her mother's house, plus pension savings. And Harkat's possible deportation to his native Algeria could cost both their lives, because Lamarche Harkat says she will remain by her husband's side even if she fears they would be executed there. Government lawyers accuse the Algerian national of being linked to a sleeper cell of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.
'I'll owe money for a long time but it doesn't matter,' Lamarche Harkat said after testifying at his Federal Court hearing.
If found guilty of terrorist activity, Harkat, 34, faces another hearing to determine whether he would be killed if he's deported to Algeria. Harkat sat calmly in the prisoner's dock during his first day of hearings yesterday, wearing a casual shirt and dark jeans and surrounded by six police agents. His wife told the court about falling in love with a good-natured gas station attendant who arrived in Canada in 1995.
The couple's first date destination was predictabily the Hull casino - a harbinger for problems that have plagued their two-year marriage. Harkat loved playing blackjack. So much, in fact, that he maxed out several credit cards and was forced to sell their late-model car, exchanging it for a 1988 Buick that Lamarche calls a piece of junk. But the $50,000 they lost on card games was nothing compared with what happened when CSIS and RCMP agents came calling.
After Sept. 11, 2001, agents took Harkat for questioning and showed him photographs of the 19 suicide bombers who hijacked airplanes and flew them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They asked about his past links to Algeria's Islamic Salvation Front, a fast-growing fundamentalist party that was banned before it could win an election in 1992.