Fears false Iranian refugees with ‘sinister motives’ may enter Canada as 19 are rejected on security grounds
Immigration authorities are concerned that Iranians with “sinister motives” may enter Canada along with the flow of undocumented refugees, according to a declassified government report obtained by the National Post.
The Canada Border Services Agency intelligence report said 19 Iranian nationals, most of whom had arrived in the country without legitimate travel documents, had been found “inadmissible” on security grounds since 2008.
It also said the United States was “increasingly concerned that Iranian secret operatives and Hezbollah, their ‘terrorist proxy force,’ may carry out attacks in the U.S.” Hezbollah is known to “alter and steal travel documents, passports and visas,” it added.
The July 2012 report, “Irregular Migration of Iranians to Canada,” was written by the CBSA Migration Intelligence Section. A copy was obtained by the National Post on Monday under the Access to Information Act.
Its release comes as relations between Ottawa and Tehran are openly hostile and Iran, under pressure over its nuclear program, has been caught orchestrating terrorist plots in several countries, including the U.S., where it tried to assassinate the Saudi ambassador.
In addition to overseeing international terrorist operations, Iran has been trying to impose pro-regime views on the diaspora. Before its diplomatic corps was expelled from Ottawa last September, one envoy told expatriates to “resist” Canadian culture and “occupy high-level key positions” in the Canadian government.
At the same time that Tehran is increasingly treating Canada as a foe, referring to it in the state-controlled press as an “extremist” government, Iran remains the top source of refugee claimants who arrive in Canada with false, forged, altered or stolen travel documents.
“While Iranian irregular migrants mainly enter Canada to make refugee claims, it is possible that certain individuals may enter with more sinister motives,” the report said under the heading ‘‘National Security.’’
The concerns stem partly from experience. In 1991, a trained Iranian assassin who took part in attacks on dissidents entered Canada posing as a refugee. His arrival coincided with a planned visit to Toronto by British author Salman Rushdie, whose assassination had been ordered by the Iranian regime. The agent was eventually found to be a member of Iran’s MOIS intelligence agency and deported.
Ray Boisvert, a retired senior Canadian Security Intelligence Service officer, said he had no doubt Iran would use the refugee system to its advantage. “They are a sophisticated intelligence service, almost first order,” he said in an interview. “They would use all those classic methods of inserting operatives.”
The report said most Iranians who made refugee claims entered Canada using improper travel documents. The majority registered their claims in the Toronto area, “likely due to the large Iranian population,” it said.
Most of their claims cited persecution based on religion, political opinion or sexual orientation. Canada’s acceptance rate for Iranian refugee claims was 86% — almost double the 44% average for all countries, it said.
“A significant proportion of the migrants use facilitators to enter Canada. Information provided by the migrants on their smugglers suggests possible links to organized criminal elements both within and outside of Canada,” said the report.
The “Protected” document said while in 2009 and 2010 most of the migrants had come through Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe had since surpassed that region and now accounted for more than half of Iranian refugee claimants.
“Given the growing number of Iranian nationals seeking refugee status globally, and the relative success with which they travel improperly documented to Canada, they will likely continue to target the country for irregular migration,” the report said.
“While the total number of Iranian irregular migrants arriving in Canada is relatively small [about 300 per year], the manner in which they arrive, their success at skirting immigration controls, and the possibility of links to organized crime are of concern.”