Canada has deported to Lebanon a “Palestinian” man who lived in the country for the past 26 years over a 1968 attack on an Israeli airliner, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced Monday, according to the AFP news agency.
Issa Mohammad immigrated to Canada using a false alias in 1987, after being convicted by a Greek court of storming a civilian airliner and killing a passenger and later being released from jail in a hostage exchange.
Over the weekend, after a decades-long legal battle confirming his inadmissibility due to his deceit and ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Canada sent him back to Lebanon, where he had last gained residency through marriage, Kenney said.
"He lied about his identity, he lied about not having a criminal past, he lied about not having ties to terrorist organizations. (One year after his arrival), Canada discovered his real identity and began a process that lasted the next 25 years, trying to remove Mr. Issa Mohammad," he said, according to AFP.
The minister blamed delays in deporting Mohammad on "a system that was so bogged down in redundant process and endless appeals that it seemed to some like we would never be able to enforce the integrity of Canada's immigration system and deport this terrorist killer."
Canada's immigration laws have recently been updated to try to avoid similar drawn out legal battles, he noted.
Born in 1943, Mohammad joined the PFLP at the age of 25 and was sent to Greece with an accomplice to hijack El Al flight 253 as it made a stopover in Athens during a Tel Aviv to New York flight on December 26, 1968.
He was arrested and sentenced in 1970 for throwing grenades and firing at civilians in the attack, killing one Israeli, to 17 years in prison. Later the same year he was released as a result of a hostage negotiation when fellow PFLP members stormed another plane demanding his release.
Following his release, he lived in Cyprus, in Lebanon and in Spain before his arrival in Canada.