Newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised eyebrows Wednesday, when he appointed Omar Alghabra as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Alghabra, a Liberal party MP representing Mississauga Centre, will get a $16,600 raise to his normal MP salary of $167,400 in his new role, according to CBC News.
Born in Saudi Arabia, Alghabra is the son of Syrian parents and arrived in Canada back in 1989, with at least some of his nuclear family still living in the Middle East.
The appointment of the new Parliamentary Secretary is particularly concerning to some, given that Alghabra previously was the head of the radical Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) between 2004 and 2005.
Backing Hamas, comparing Israelis to Nazis
CAF just this August lost an appeal to have its government funding reinstated, after then-Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney back in 2009 cut $1 million in annual funding to the group.
Kenney proved that the group's leadership repeatedly expressed support for the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah. In cutting the funding Kenney's office noted a CAF executive took part in a Cairo conference together with Hamas and Hezbollah delegates, and likewise that the Hezbollah flag was flown at a CAF rally.
The 2014 Federal Court ruling to uphold the suspension of funding included evidence showing CAF rallies compared Israelis to Nazis and included a sign threatening to murder a Jewish child, reports the Canadian Jewish News. The group also sponsored an essay contest on the topic of "ethnic cleansing" in Israel.
“I have been on public record disagreeing with the approach taken by the current administration of the Canadian Arab Federation,” Alghabra claimed in August amid the decision to continue cutting funding.
But Kenney told the National Post that while Alghabra didn't lead the group in 2009 when he cut funding from it, the MP "criticized my decision to defund CAF."
"Key to the pro-Hamas vote"
Canadian journalist Ezra Levant warned in a Toronto Sun op-ed back in August 2014 that Alghabra's close ties with Trudeau should be a warning sign regarding the Liberal party head.
"Omar Alghabra, the Saudi-born extremist who used to run the anti-Semitic Canadian Arab Federation," wrote Levant. "That lobby group claims that Hamas and Hezbollah are not terrorists."
"Normally, in politics, Alghabra is someone you keep far away from you. But Trudeau keeps Alghabra very close – he’s been the key to unlocking the anti-Israel vote, the anti-Semitic vote, the pro-Hamas vote, and the pro-sharia vote."
"Alghabra has extreme views," wrote Levant in another op-ed in April 2013. "When he was president of the Canadian Arab Federation in 2004, he denounced Canada’s largest newspaper chain for using the term 'terrorist' to describe Muslim terrorist groups like the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (of Fatah - ed.). He said that was a mere opinion, not a fact."
Israel's "brutal occupation"
Back in June 2005 during his term as CAF president, Alghabra wrote to Toronto police chief Bill Blair, protesting the latter's decision to lead the "Walk for Israel."
In the letter, which was posted on CAF's website, Alghabra called Israel "a country that is conducting a brutal and the longest contemporary military occupation in the world."
"This event coupled with your recent participation in a delegation of police chiefs that went on a six-day trip to Israel on March 1, has begun to create a feeling of genuine distrust and confusion for what appears to be your public endorsement of the practices of the state of Israel," wrote Alghabra at the time.
Then in November 2004 when arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat died, Alghabra's CAF put out a press release mourning the terrorist's death with "sorrow and regret."
“This is a time of reflection and reaffirmation of commitment to the Palestinian just cause of struggle for freedom and self-determination,” Alghabra was quoted as saying in his organization's press release.
Alghabra also has reportedly said he was disappointed Ontario's decision not to adopt Sharia Islamic law for Muslim divorces during a 2003-2006 debate, calling the move not to take on Muslim law in Canada "unfortunate."
A sign of the true Trudeau?
Given Alghabra's past, many are raising concerns that his appointment to an office deciding foreign policy may indicate the line Trudeau intends to follow.
Some said the concerns over Trudeau's position vis-a-vis Israel were unwarranted after he voted against six anti-Israel resolutions at the UN late last month shortly after taking office, but his record leaves room for doubt.
In April 2014, he condemned then Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a Farsi-language local paper of supporting Israel to gain Jewish votes - even as he called for rapprochement and a nuclear deal with Iran in the Canadian-Iranian paper.
And one of Trudeau's top advisers, Gen. (ret.) Andrew Leslie, in August 2014 accused Israel of firing "indiscriminately onto Palestinian women and children" during Operation Protective Edge.