Ottawa Saw Impostor In Mohamud

Ottawa saw 'imposter' in Mohamud
Official's affadavit says he suspected woman detained in Kenya was sister of the Canadian now suing over ordeal

John Goddard
Staff Reporter
Toronto Star
Sep 30, 2009 04:30 AM
Comments on this story [] (61)

The first Canadian official to interview a woman detained in Kenya for not looking like her passport photo says he suspected the woman to be Suaad Hagi Mohamud's sister.

“My suspicion was based on four factors,” migrant integrity officer Paul Jamieson says in an affidavit.

First of all, the woman bore a family resemblance to Mohamud's passport photo, he said.

As well, a sister Jihan, younger by 10 months, appeared on Mohamud's Canadian immigration application years ago; the woman in Kenya knew Mohamud's basic biographical details, and finally; “in my experience it is common for imposters to be related to the rightful holder of the passport,” he said.

Jamieson's affidavit features among court documents offering the first glimpse into Ottawa's reasons for declaring the holder of Mohamud's passport an “imposter” when stopped trying to board a flight to Toronto on May 21.

Jamieson said he interviewed the woman in English three times in five days while she was in Kenyan custody. The first time was by phone May 21, the second in person at the airport May 22, the third at the Canadian High Commission on May 25.

But his affidavit and other federal documents leave key questions unaddressed, such as why Mohamud was never charged with an offence and why Ottawa paid her way home to Toronto after a DNA test deemed 99.9 per cent accurate established her identity, statistically ruling out a sister.

Was the woman he interviewed the same one who passed the DNA test three months later? Jamieson doesn't say. He left the high commission June 25 for a posting in South Africa, he says, and makes no mention of seeing the woman again.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Mohamud was adamant that there was no imposter.

“I don't have a sister younger than me, older than me, I have no sister over there,” she said. Somebody else filled out the original immigration application, she said.

She has spoken in the past of only four older half-sisters.

“The person they caught at the airport, it was me,” she said.

Mohamud was born in Somalia, immigrated to Canada 10 years ago and holds only Canadian citizenship.

She has said repeatedly that, on May 21, she was about to board a flight home to Toronto after a three-week visit when a KLM airlines employee questioned her passport photo and passed her to Kenyan authorities.

That night, Jamieson says, he reached a detainee by phone.

“I did not take notes of the telephone interview … but I recall some of the questions and answers,” he says in the sworn statement dated Sept. 28.

In response to biographical questions, the detainee said she was a student at Humber College and named Randy Jackson as one of her professors, Jamieson says.

Later, he found no such professor listed on the college website and noted Randy Jackson is “a popular media figure” (best known as a judge on American Idol).

The detainee could not name the Canadian prime minister or Toronto's mayor, Jamieson said, and could not name teachers at her 12-year-old son's Toronto school.

Jamieson ordered the woman further detained and the next day, with a junior officer, interviewed her at the airport face-to-face.

“I took handwritten notes,” his affidavit says. But Mohamud said Tuesday he taped that interview.

The session began with Jamieson asking for a sample signature, which he says differed “significantly” from the passport and immigration application signatures. The first name she variously spelled “Suaad” and “Suad,” he says.

At different points she said she was studying at Humber College, thinking of studying at Seneca College and working at ATS, a courier company. She could not say what ATS stands for, Jamieson says.

At one point, Jamieson says he asked himself whether the person he was interviewing was different from the person he had spoken to the night before. There had been no “switch,” he concluded.

Toronto customer loyalty cards and similar items in her possession did not impress him, he says.

“When an individual gives their passport to someone else to use, they often also provide a package of secondary identity documents,” he says. “At the close of our interview, I addressed the person with whom I was speaking as Jihan, and advised her that I believed she was using her sister's passport,” Jamieson says. “She smiled briefly, then looked away.

“She stated that she didn't know why I was calling her Jihan, didn't know a Jihan and insisted that she was Suaad.”

The woman remained in detention over the weekend and on Monday, May 25, the Kenyans drove her to the high commission, where Jamieson interviewed her.

“I did not take notes,” he says.

Measuring her height, he found her “six or seven centimetres shorter” than it said on her driver's licence. (Canadian officials measured her again on July 27, the day of the DNA test, but the documents do not say whether the measurement was the same or different.)

“Throughout the (third) interview, I found the person concerned to be vague and evasive,” Jamieson states. “Typically, when I asked a question about Toronto she would not reply at first but would instead begin crying or protesting that she did not know why I was doing this.”

Jamieson's affidavit appears among a stack of documents filed in Ontario Superior Court of Justice in connection with Mohamud's $2.6 million lawsuit against Ottawa alleging “callous and reckless treatment of her while she was abroad.”

Her revised notice of action, which also appears in the stack, contains a few new details as well.

In interviews with the Star while she was detained, Mohamud said she was a divorced mother of a 12-year-old in Toronto, and that she fended for herself in slum hotels while stranded in Nairobi.

In her notice of action, she says that in 2007 she married Mohamud Osman, a Kenyan of Somali origin who lives in Nairobi.

The notice says she took a planned three-week vacation to Kenya partly to visit him, and not only her mother, as she previously said in interviews.

In the lawsuit, the husband and mother each claim $100,000 as part of the $2.6 million in damages.

“The thing is I'm here, I'm a single mom, I live with my son,” Mohamud said Tuesday. “(My husband) wasn't part of the story.”

Mohamud's Toronto lawyer, Raoul Boulakia, said the marriage was never a secret and was declared in open court in Kenya.

“The issue is not her private life,” Boulakia said. “The story is that she is Suaad … (Her husband) is a Somali-Kenyan, the most marginalized people in Kenyan society, what's he supposed to do? …

Boulakia called the Jamieson affidavit “the linchpin” in Ottawa's case, with the sister theory supporting the argument the case is “very complicated,” as Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in August.

Federal justice officials were not available for comment.

With files from Katie Daubs



What documents filed by the government in federal court say

The woman detained at the airport on May 21 was unable to name the prime minister of Canada or the mayor of Toronto. She couldn't name Lake Ontario or what the abbreviation TTC stood for.

In one interview, the woman claimed to be a student at Humber College and named Randy Jackson as one of her professors. The interviewer couldn't find a professor by that name on the college's website.

She was unable to name teachers at the Toronto school of her 12-year-old son, Mohamed Hussein.

A signature of the woman claiming to be Suaad Hagi Mohamud was different from the one on her passport and in immigration applications.

She gave her son's birthday as Jan. 5 instead of Jan. 3 as in the immigration application.

The woman gave both 2006 and 1996 as the year of her marriage and was unable to explain the contradiction.

The detainee said she did not know when her siblings were born.

The woman, who was interrogated by Canadian consular officials, measured “six or seven centimetres” shorter than the height specified on her Canadian driver's licence.

When Mohamud applied for immigration years ago, she named a sister, Jihan, in the application. Canadian consular officials suspected Jihan, 10 months younger than Mohamud, was the imposter.


[] Video: Suaad suing for $2.5M
Canadians stranded, abandoned abroad
Questionable protocols in Mohamud case
MP says minister was told June 12 about Mohamud
Letter on Suaad Haji Mohamud (PDF)
Video: Home at last
Photos: Journey home
Video: Interview with Mohamud
Photos: Anxious days for Mohamud
Editorial: A country that abandons its own
Key minister goes M.I.A.
'No excuses' for woman's plight
Harper embarrasses Canada abroad
Whose fault is it?
Column: Case smacks of prejudice
Vindicated by her DNA
Mohamud seeks help for stress
Somali-born travellers pay a price
'Canadian refugee' a Nairobi celebrity
Woman's lips trapped her in Kenya
Praying for return of mother


Comments :

This is a perfect example of the types of stories, half-truths, incorrect facts/details, lies …. some immigrants, and some sleazy immigration lawyers are using to gain entry into Canada in the first place. Immigration is the problem. A major revamping is required to keep the ever-increasing disreptuable characters out. lampdown t

Submitted by JMJ at 12:15 PM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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Help needed here…

Was the woman suspected by the KLM employee held in custody throughout the entire time until a DNA sample was taken? If not, I'm beginning to suspect a “sister act switcheroo”. IGGY's got EGG on his face. Good on you mate! The Liberals will do anything to suck up to “new Canadian” vote – even if these citizens of convenience don't know anything about or contribute to their new home country.

Submitted by view_from_an_old_fart at 12:15 PM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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Light the torches and pass the pitchforks

The village mob is forming up to go after this woman who has dared to challenge the noble King Stephen and his gallant knights, whom we all know are incapable of doing wrong. If Harper is successful at anything, it is at being a demagogue.

Submitted by E.B. at 12:11 PM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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See what happens

when all those emotional ASSUMERS and Presumers do their thing. There is lesson here people.. NEVER EVER assume anything.. get ALL of the facts before you judge something or someone. I knew they were doing their job because these people are professionals ad hear sad stories all the time.We need more people with critical thinking skills like these border people in Canada, I am quite tired of a society that ASSUMES something.

Submitted by Another Voice Of Reason at 12:03 PM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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Time to Stop Believing Every Thing That We Read and Hear

There's 2 sides to every story. We learned our lesson with this one.

Submitted by calm50 at 11:54 AM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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The one thing that has always concerned me about this story are the loyaly cards & receipts. When I travel I clean my wallet of these items, as I cannot see the need to travel with them. I use 1 credit card, travellers cheques and cash nothing else other than my passport. Why would anyone take receipts etc. on a visit?

Submitted by Scot2 at 11:53 AM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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Toronto Star Creates Victims

The Toronto Star creates victims all the time. This is very irresponsible of the Star, which seems determined to bring down the Conservatives at all costs. It makes complete sense to me that the government did not just let a woman who doesnt know her son's birthday or when she was married enter our country.

Submitted by jjfox at 11:51 AM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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Once again, Harper ends up looking like people are just picking on him

It's true. Consider the bashing that Harper took over this and then it turns out that there was ample reason to doubt this woman's identity. Liberals 0, Harper 1.

Submitted by calm50 at 11:51 AM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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The Star

I remember reading, that it was due to interference and pressure by publicizing her story in the media, that had created a pressured repatriation for this woman by the government, so as to save face – we thought- after the DNA sample was 99% true. But DNA cannot possibly tell the whole story – after all, they are family, and it was not a 100% match. I agree that more personal questions should have been asked.SOme parents might really be oblivious to their child's teachers, or could care less who the PM or Mayor is (believe me, it's true) For example, her first address when she lived in Toronto, or the process with which she settled in Toronto, etc. REALLY, really personal questions that only she could answer. ANd anyone innocent, would gladly answer those questions, instead of crying and bursting out with revocations.

Submitted by chipgirl at 11:46 AM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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After seeing the photos yesterday

I am curious as to why the Passport office processed her passport when she was clearly wearing glasses in the photograph. I have had a passport for over 10 years and I have always had to take my glasses off for the photograph.

Submitted by Spliceit at 11:33 AM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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Did you miss the part of the story where it says that all of the discrepancies are apparently based only on the recollections of the consular official who didn't take notes on his interviews? I wonder why he chose not to document these interviews.

Submitted by Tariqata at 11:28 AM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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picture doesn't matter

DNA test. Story over.

Submitted by Mister J at 11:27 AM Wednesday, September 30 2009
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