Edmonton cousin of ISIS recruits loses appeal in U.S. extradition case

The Court of Appeal of Alberta has upheld a decision to extradite Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi to the United States to face terrorism charges.

Court of Appeal of Alberta upholds decision to extradite Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi

Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi is accused of robbing an Edmonton jewelry store to help finance his cousins who joined ISIS. (Court exhibit)

The Court of Appeal of Alberta has upheld a decision to extradite an Edmonton man accused of funding his cousins who went overseas to fight for ISIS.

Abdullahi Ahmed Abdullahi, 34, has been fighting extradition to the United States, where he would face charges of conspiring to provide and providing material support to foreign fighters in Syria.

"We agree with the extradition judge that the ROC [record of the case] contained sufficient evidence to allow a reasonable jury, properly instructed, to convict," the panel of three justices wrote in a unanimous decision released Tuesday. "There is nothing in the record to indicate the evidence is manifestly unreliable."

The ROC is a summary of the U.S. government's evidence. 

Abdullahi is accused of robbing an Edmonton jewelry store to help fund a terrorist cell that included his three cousins, who left Edmonton for Syria in 2013. It's believed they were killed there one year later.

He is also accused of wiring money to two Americans from the group to help them travel overseas.

In May 2018, Court of Queen's Bench Justice John Little granted the order to extradite Abdullahi to the United States.

Little based his decision on the ROC, which included recovered emails allegedly drafted by Abdullahi in communication with family and friends fighting overseas. The case relies on the testimony of two witnesses who were once accomplices — the widow of a fighter, referred to in court documents as Mrs. M, and Abdullahi's cousin, referred to JD.

Draft emails to foreign fighters ID'd

According to the evidence, the witnesses can identify draft emails to or from Abdullahi that discuss providing and wiring money to foreign fighters. The witnesses accuse Abdullahi of writing a draft email describing how he committed the armed robbery to fund Islamic State in Iraq and Syria fighters. Abdullahi is also accused of writing draft emails expressing his desire to travel to Syria and fight for ISIS.

Abdullahi's appeal of that ruling was heard last week. His lawyer, Akram Attia, argued the ROC would not meet the standards for evidence in a criminal trial in Canada. 

Attia said the case relied on hearsay provided to the witnesses from some foreign fighters who are no longer alive.

He argued the draft emails were "manifestly unreliable" because, among other reasons, the witnesses were co-conspirators and the widow did not know Abdullahi well.

But the appeal justices said the test to grant extradition had been met.

"Viewed as a whole, the ROC provides some evidence that Mr. Abdullahi committed an armed robbery to obtain cash that he later transferred through Western Union to individuals in Syria, with the intention of facilitating their efforts with ISIS," the justices wrote.

"The background to this narrative appears to be supported by a series of draft emails recovered fvrom JD's computer, that both he and Mrs. M can identify, indicating Mr. Abdullahi wished to support those members of the group travelling to Syria to fight for ISIS."

Abdullahi could still ask for leave to appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada.