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Jan 27, 2000

Alleged terrorist Iqbal Singh maintains innocence

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The Canadian media is reporting he was deported under Canada’s anti-terrorism laws. He says he left voluntarily and chose Belize because it is English speaking and he wants to start a business here, perhaps in the agricultural sector. Today Iqbal Singh spoke to News Five about the controversy surrounding his arrival in Belize earlier this month he maintains, as he did in Canada, that he was never a member of any violent or terrorist organization. He says the Canadian government targeted him because he refused to become an informant for their intelligence service. He is suing a newspaper in Canada, and one here in Belize, for their reports on him, which he says, are false. He also says the Belize Economic Citizenship Investment Program was aware he was being detained pending a deportation hearing, and he has the letters to prove it.

Iqbal Singh

“I’m waiting that this case should go in the international courts and I should prove myself, I am innocent person, I am industrious person, diligent person, I am not a criminal, I am not a terrorist, I’m nothing.”

Janelle Chanona, Reporting”

On April 2nd 1998, Iqbal Singh was arrested as a “threat” to Canada’s national security because of his alleged association with the Babbar Khalsa, and Babbar Khalsa International, organizations seeking to establish a Sikh homeland in India. In August of ’98 Judge Marshall Rothstein found on the basis of Singh’s own evidence that he quote “has a much closer association with the B.K. and the B.K.I. than he professes.” But Singh says Canada wanted to deport him because he refused to be an informant to Canadian Intelligence.

Iqbal Singh

“They say, the information we need, if you provide us, all information, if you just spy on your own community, the people, the Sikh people in Canada, because in Canada, this is a large Sikh community living there, I think one million people living there. They say there are some groups who fighting against our government in India and their are associates living in our country, they are citizens of Canada. And we cannot do anything against them, we need all information, and you are well know person, if you work for us you can collect information and give it to us, you will get everything, whatever you want in this country.”

While Singh maintains he is being harassed unfairly, according to Canadian Intelligence and Singh’s own testimony in Court, he had received calls from Wadawa Singh Babbar, the head of the Babbar faction of the B.K., during crucial periods, once when Sukdev Singh Babbar, the former leader of the faction, was assassinated and again after the assassination of the Indian

Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh. The court records reveal that Singh passed on faxes sent to him by Wadawa Singh Babbar to the head of the B.K. in Canada, Rampal Singh Dhillon

Janelle Chanona

None of those messages or talks you had with them concerned violence or extremist…

Iqbal Singh

“Nothing, nothing at all. I wish someone should prove this, I wish someone would bring this up in front of courts and say Mr. Singh did this mistake. I would love someone show me something against me. I didn’t do anything wrong in my life.”

Q: So you’re confident you are going to win in court?

Iqbal Singh

“Hundred percent. I didn’t do anything wrong in my life.”

Iqbal Singh

“This is small community, when one person doing his own good business, any person could call him and he cannot stop anybody, not to call me.”

Q: So that’s how he got your phone number?

Iqbal Singh

“Maybe. Many people call me, maybe one of the call is from Wadawa Singh because they used to ask for charity help of the people.”

Singh does admit knowing that certain people he knew were associated with the B.K.

Iqbal Singh

“But half of the community is associated with Babbar Khalsa, to whom I talk to, whom I doesn’t talk.”

Q: When you say associated, what does that mean?

Iqbal Singh

“These people, they are doing charity help, in Canada. If somebody came to the airport, in immigration holding, some time they help him out, prepare his bill and they release him. Like these kinds of helps they are doing in the foreign countries.”

Q: So if that charity work is what you consider an associate… then won’t you own charity work be, an associate of the B.K.?

Iqbal Singh

“No, no.”

Q: Why not?

Iqbal Singh

“I don’t work with any work with any group because I was very busy with my business, and if like wherever I see I could do some charity help, I did, I saw some families, those woman?s, I help them. But personally, to any group, I never give any money.”

Singh says during his hearing in the federal court, persons calling themselves presidents of the BK, testified that he was not a member of the organization, and yet, he, Singh, was the one under investigation.

Iqbal Singh

“One person is sitting in the witness box and saying, I’m president of Babbar Khalsa and he’s not my leader, he’s not my member and they are saying, we are alleging he’s member and he’s danger, threat to national security. I pose threat to national security and person who says, I’m president of this group, and he doesn’t pose any threat to national security. What kind of thing is this?”

Singh says he would like to clarify one issue in particular to the Belizean public.

Iqbal Singh

“I was in holding center when I applied for Belize passport. I want to clear one thing, you people always ask me that you apply for citizenship from jail, it’s not jail. Jail is, jail in Canada, jail and detention center is same word but they are two different things. Jail is a thing when someone convicted and sentenced, and he should go to jail. But as long as the person is not convicted, like an immigration hold, they are holding centers but in slang word we use jail but it’s not that real jail.”

Singh says the Belize Economic Citizenship Investment Program, (BECIP) was aware that he was being detained in Canada pending deportation. In fact, he willingly showed News Five copies of letters to both Joseph Fuller the former director of BECIP and the current director Joey Belisle from his attorney. The documents clearly state he was applying for a Belizean passport even though he was being detained by Canadian officials and could be deported at any time. He told us he found Belize’s citizenship program on the Internet and chose Belize because our program was cheaper than programs like those in the Dominican Republic and the United States.

The Director of BECIP Joey Belisle told News Five today he will have to check his files to see if he received the letter from Singh’s attorneys. But he says the program is generally only concerned about police records, not immigration infractions or pending court actions. Under Canadian law, suspected terrorist activity falls under the department of immigration, and would not appear on police records. The Belize Economic Citizenship Investment Program requests that all applicants furnish a police record and BECIP runs an INTERPOL check. According to BECIP there was nothing unusual about Iqbal Singh’s application and an INTERPOL check did not indicate any prior criminal activity.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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