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EDMONTON, ALBERTA — An appeals court ruled Monday an Iraqi-born man should be extradited to the United States to face charges that he helped coordinate Tunisian jihadists believed responsible for a suicide attack in Iraq in 2009 that killed five American soldiers outside a U.S. base.
Sayfildin Tahir Sharif, who holds dual Canadian-Iraqi citizenship, was arrested in 2011 on a U.S. warrant and has been fighting extradition to New York.
The prosecution alleges Sharif worked from Edmonton, Alberta, to help a Tunisian man enter Iraq in 2009 and detonate a truck filled with explosives at a military checkpoint, killing five U.S. soldiers. Prosecutors contend that evidence from intercepted Internet and phone conversations shows that Sharif was directly involved in supporting Tunisian terrorists. Sharif never left Canada as part of the alleged conspiracy.
The terror network is also accused of blowing up an Iraqi police station, killing seven Iraqi officers.
Canada’s justice minister granted extradition last summer after receiving assurances from the U.S. that Sharif wouldn’t face the death penalty. Defense lawyers also received a letter from U.S. authorities promising the man wouldn’t be held indefinitely in pre-trial detention.
Sharif was appealing the justice minister’s decision as well as a judge’s original ruling in 2012 that there was enough evidence to extradite Sharif on two charges.
Sharif is an ethnic Kurd who was born in Iraq but moved to Toronto as a refugee in 1993. Four years later, he became a Canadian citizen.
In 2011, he was arrested at an Edmonton apartment where he lived with his girlfriend and her children.
Defense lawyers had argued before the appeals court that Royal Canadian Mounted Police didn’t allow Sharif access to a lawyer or interpreter the day of his arrest, and transcripts of police interviews show he didn’t understand what was going on.
They also said allegations against their client came from three people, including his brother, who were tortured by investigators in Iraq.
The Appeal Court of Alberta ruled that none of the arguments merited keeping Sharif in Canada.