Edmonton terror suspect fights extradition

A Canadian citizen accused of playing a role in an Iraq bombing that killed five American soldiers in April 2009 will fight extradition to the U.S., his lawyer says.

U.S. wants long-time resident extradited, alleging role in Iraq suicide bombings

Sayfildin Tahir Sharif, shown in a court sketch, appeared briefly in an Edmonton court Thursday morning. ((CBC))

A Canadian citizen accused of playing a role in an Iraq bombing that killed five American soldiers in April 2009 will fight extradition to the U.S., his lawyer says.

"I think any Canadian would want to stay in Canada to answer to charges," Bob Aloneissi, the defence lawyer of Sayfildin Tahir Sharif, said outside an Edmonton court.

Sharif, 38, appeared briefly in court Thursday morning wearing shackles, a day after he was arrested by RCMP on the FBI's behalf. The case was rescheduled to Jan. 27, when bail will be addressed. Sharif faces no charges in Canada.

After 60 days, a date for an extradition hearing in Edmonton will likely be set within six months, said Aloneissi.

"Then the extradition judge will decide whether he should be extradited, and then the [federal justice] minister will decide whether to give the consent to extradition," he said.

Aloneissi said his client, an ethnic Kurd who was born in Iraq, is married with children and works in the construction industry in Edmonton. He came to Canada in 1993, living in Toronto briefly before moving to Edmonton.

Sharif was arrested Wednesday morning at a walk-up apartment in the area of 82nd Street and 131st Avenue in northeast Edmonton.

Kyle Barth learned about his neighbour's arrest from his landlord after he noticed people going in and out of the apartment. He said he was surprised about the development.

"He was very calm, very friendly, neighbourly," Barth said of Sharif. "He asked to borrow stuff every once in awhile. I borrowed stuff off him once in awhile."

CBC News was able to reach a woman through the intercom who lives in Sharif's  apartment, but she wouldn't speak to a reporter.

The U.S. Department of Justice wants Sharif, also known as Faruq Khalil Muhammad 'Isa or Tahir Sharif Sayfildin, extradited to the United States to face terror-related charges in New York state.

U.S. authorities have charged Sharif with being involved in and providing support to an international terrorist network they say is responsible for two suicide bombings in Iraq.

One of the bombings, at a police station, killed seven Iraqis on March 31, 2009. The other killed five U.S. soldiers on April 10, 2009.

Charges 'gratifying', mother says

Staff Sgt. Gary L. Woods, 24, of Lebanon Junction, Ky., Sgt. First Class Bryan E. Hall, 32, of Elk Grove, Calif., Sgt. Edward W. Forrest Jr., 25, of St. Louis, Mo., Cpl. Jason G. Pautsch, 20, of Davenport, Iowa, and Army Pte. First Class, Bryce E. Gaultier, 22, from Cyrus, Calif. died in the blast.

Gaultier's mother, Heidi Frankel, told The Canadian Press she never expected to see anyone charged in the bombing that killed her son.

"It is rather gratifying to know that somebody cared enough to follow up on it," Frankel said in a telephone interview from Orange County, Calif., on Thursday.

"I'm glad justice is prevailing in its own way, but unfortunately it doesn't minimize the loss to any of the families."

Like Frankel, David Pautsch, father of Jason Pautsch, never believed an arrest would be made in the attack.

"Oh, never in a million years," he said. "I just thought, it's the work of some insurgents in Mosul, Iraq, and they vanished into the woodwork."

Lawyer met Sharif for 1st time Thursday

Sharif was surprised by the charges, said Aloneissi.

Lawyer Bob Aloneissi speaks to reporters outside the Edmonton courthouse about his client, Sayfildin Tahir Sharif. ((CBC))

"They're probably some of the most serious charges that an individual can face," he said.

Aloneissi said he knows little about the charges and even less about his client at this point. He only met Sharif for the first time early Thursday morning.

RCMP refused the lawyer permission to speak with his client on Wednesday, because U.S. authorities were interrogating him, according to Aloneissi.

With files from The Canadian Press