A Canadian ISIS member caught in Syria and flown to the United States to stand trial should have been prosecuted in Canada, a lawyer representing his family said Monday.
“If there is evidence against Canadians who are being arbitrarily detained in northeast Syria, they should be brought home and prosecuted,” Lawrence Greenspon told Global News.
“I don’t think we should be relying on the United States to repatriate Canadians in this way.”
While the RCMP has also been investigating the former Toronto IT worker, who was captured by Kurdish forces in January 2019, the Canadian government would not return him to Canada.
Known as the “voice of ISIS,” Khalifa is the first alleged Canadian ISIS member caught in Syria to be taken to the U.S.
Greenspon said he received no notice from Global Affairs Canada that the U.S. was taking custody of Khalifa, and wondered whether the government of Canada was even aware.
The charges were sworn in U.S. district court eight months ago, but it’s unclear Ottawa knew. Global Affairs Canada referred questions to the RCMP, which has not yet responded.
“Global Affairs Canada has indicated it is in contact with local authorities to gather additional information,” according to a statement from Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s office.
Canadian ISIS member Mohammed Khalifa believes suicide bombings ‘acceptable’
In an interview with Global News after he was captured, Khalifa admitted he was an ISIS fighter and had worked for the ISIS media department, narrating execution videos.
The RCMP subsequently obtained a court order requiring Global News to hand over its recording of the interview, conducted at a Kurdish military base in northeast Syria.
Documents filed in the case showed the RCMP was “investigating Mr. Khalifa for serious terrorism offences” including committing an indictable offence for the benefit of a terrorist group.
But after the Canadian government failed to bring him to Canada to face justice, the FBI took over, charged him and moved him to the U.S.
“To those who say, ‘Let our Canadians rot in prison over there,’ this is what should be done,” Greenspon said, although he added that Khalifa should have instead been flown to Canada.
The U.S. has repeatedly appealed to countries like Canada to repatriate and prosecute their citizens held at the Kurdish-run detention facilities.
Khalifa was one of 13 adult Canadians held by U.S.-back Kurdish fighters. Four men and eight women now remain, along with their children.
Canada has so far repatriated only two children.
Last week, Greenspon filed an application in Federal Court on behalf of the families of the detainees. It asks the court to order the government to return them.
The U.S. has charged Khalifa, a 38-year-old Saudi-born Canadian citizen, with conspiring to provide material support to ISIS. He was allegedly a “lead translator” of ISIS propaganda materials.
“Let there be no doubt, the FBI will hold terrorists and those who provide material support to terrorist organizations accountable for their actions,” said Timothy Langan of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Bitcoin hovers near 6-month high on ETF hopes, inflation worries
Bitcoin hovered near a six-month high early on Monday on hopes that U.S. regulators would soon allow cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETF) to trade, while global inflation worries also provided some support.
Bitcoin last stood at $62,359, near Friday’s six-month high of $62,944 and not far from its all-time high of $64,895 hit in April.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to allow the first American bitcoin futures ETF to begin trading this week, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, a move likely to lead to wider investment in digital assets.
Cryptocurrency players expect the approval of the first U.S. bitcoin ETF to trigger an influx of money from institutional players who cannot invest in digital coins at the moment.
Rising inflation worries also increased appetite for bitcoin, which is in limited supply, in contrast to the ample amount of currencies issued by central banks in recent years as monetary authorities printed money to stimulate their economies.
But some analysts noted that, after the recent rally, investors may sell bitcoin on the ETF news.
“The news of a suite of futures-tracking ETFs is not new to those following the space closely, and to many this is a step forward but not the game-changer that some are sensing,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone in Melbourne, Australia.
“We’ve been excited by a spot ETF before, and this may need more work on the regulation front.”
(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)
China’s plunging construction starts reminiscent of 2015 downturn
China’s September new construction starts slumped for a sixth straight month, the longest spate of monthly declines since 2015, as cash-strapped developers put a pause on projects in the wake of tighter regulations on borrowing.
New construction starts in September fell 13.54% from a year earlier, the third month of double-digit declines, according to Reuters calculations based on January-September data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.
That marks the longest downtrend since declines in March-August 2015, the last property malaise.
When the sector recovered in 2016 after authorities loosened their grip on purchases and development, tens of thousands of real estate firms borrowed heavily to build homes.
But as regulations tightened again this year, many of them have started to face a liquidity crunch, which was then worsened by sharply weaker demand due to tighter restrictions on speculative purchases.
Property sales by floor area dropped 15.8% in September, down for a third month, according to Reuters calculations based on the statistics bureau’s data.
The slowdown in the sector was also underscored by a 3.5% drop in property investments by developers in September, the first monthly decline since January-February last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in China.
“All the data are poor,” said Zhang Dawei, chief analyst with property agency Centaline.
“Financing is hard, sales are tough, so of course, there has been no enthusiasm to build. For the first time in history, developers are encountering two blockages – blockages in sales and blockages in financing.”
The potential collapse of highly indebted real estate firms such as China Evergrande Group have raised concerns about systemic risks to the broader economy. The real estate sector accounts for a quarter of China’s gross domestic product.
Authorities will try to prevent problems at Evergrande from spreading to other real estate companies to avoid broader systemic risk, Yi Gang, governor of China’s central bank, said on Sunday.
On Friday, a central bank official said the spillover effect of Evergrande’s debt problems on the banking system was “controllable.”
“There is a likelihood that housing policies may loosen in the fourth quarter, and that would ease the pessimism in the property transaction data,” said Yan Yuejin, director of Shanghai-based E-house China Research and Development Institution.
On Friday, representatives from 10 Chinese Property Companies met government regulators to ask for an “appropriate loosening” on policy restrictions, financial news outlet Yicai reported.
China’s real estate shares have fallen 22% so far this year. On Monday, they were down 2.6% as of 0300 GMT.
In the first nine months, property investment rose 8.8% from a year earlier, slowing from 10.9% growth seen in January-August.
Funds raised by China’s property developers grew 11.1%, slower than the 14.8% rise seen in the first eight months.
(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
Saks Fifth Avenue ecommerce unit aims for IPO at $6 billion valuation – WSJ
The ecommerce business of luxury department store Saks OFF 5TH is preparing for an initial public offering and targeting a $6 billion valuation, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing sources.
The company is interviewing potential underwriters this week for an IPO that could take place in the first half of next year, according to the report.
(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Daniel Wallis)
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