Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bombing suspect left Canada as a child: MP

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OTTAWA -- Immigration Minister Jason Kenney sparked fresh debate about Canada's responsibilities to its dual citizens Wednesday as he shed a little more light on the shadowy suspect in a terrorist attack in Bulgaria last summer.

Kenney said the Lebanese-Canadian man arrived in Canada from Lebanon at age eight and lived in Vancouver with his mother before becoming a citizen, then returned to Lebanon when he was 12.

Bulgarian authorities say that's where they believe the man is now, along with the other suspect in the July attack, which killed five Israeli tourists, a Bulgarian bus driver and a third suspect -- the bomber himself.

The names of the suspects are known, the suspects are based in the same country and "we have asked Lebanese authorities to assist in our investigation," Stanimir Florov, head of Bulgaria's anti-terror unit, said Wednesday.

He did not elaborate.

The three are believed to be linked to Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group and political party both Canada and the U.S. have designated a terrorist organization. Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the attack.

A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said the government is continuing to work with Bulgarian officials to obtain more information.

The Lebanese-Canadian individual wasn't in Canada very long, Kenney said, although he may have returned to Canadian soil on more than one occasion since leaving as a boy.

"I understand he returned to Lebanon; I understand he may have been back a few times since then but has not been a habitual resident in Canada since the age of 12," Kenney said.

Bulgarian authorities have said the activities of both suspects could be traced to their home countries. The other man reportedly holds an Australian passport.

While the Lebanese-Canadian individual may not have lived in Canada recently, Kenney said the controversy raises the question of what to do about citizens who go abroad to commit acts of terror.

"Canadian citizenship is predicated on loyalty to this country, and I cannot think of a more obvious act of renouncing one's sense of loyalty than going and committing acts of terror," he said.

He suggested the government ought to look at what other countries do and consider a mechanism for stripping Canadian citizenship from those involved in terrorist acts abroad.

Conservative MP Devinder Shory currently has a private member's bill before the Commons that, among other things, would revoke citizenship from dual nationals if they engage in an act of war against the Canadian military.

Permanent residents who commit such an act and who have applied for Canadian citizenship would see their application withdrawn.

-- The Canadian Press, with files from The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 7, 2013 A10

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