Last March, Chiheb Battikh was convicted to six years in jail for the kidnapping of a three-year-old child for a $500,000 ransom. The kidnapping occurred in Montreal on December 19, 2012. On that day, Battikh shot the father of the child with a Taser gun in the neck, on the ear and, finally, on his body. The father collapsed as blood was coming out of his ear.
Like a movie scene, the father managed to get back up, chased Battikh and intercepted him with the help of a passerby.
After Battikh’s arrest was made public, Point de Bascule came up with the scoop that he was a leader of the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), the main Muslim Brotherhood organization in Canada. His preliminary inquiry revealed that he was being paid $4,000 a month to manage the Islamist organization’s activities. Battikh was head of MAC Education Department and director of the Canadian Institute of Islamic Civilization, a MAC substructure.
After Battikh’s arrest, Point de Bascule also published a report looking at the various Islamist organizations that the kidnapper led and managed in recent years. Battikh has had important financial responsibilities with some of these organizations: in 2005, while he was treasurer of the Mississauga’s Jamat-E-Islahul Muslemin mosque, it transferred $877,393 to the Muslim Association of Canada, Battikh was also responsible for the purchase of a prestigious $4.7 million building located at 615 Belmont Street in downtown Montreal.
Journalist Andrew McIntosh looked at the information that was made available during Battikh’s preliminary inquiry and investigated another related issue: the possibility that Battikh had an accomplice for the kidnapping. McIntosh did not come up with a firm conclusion but listed numerous hints that give a lot of credibility to this thesis. Very worrying is the fact that many hints highlighted by McIntosh were neglected by the Montreal police investigation. Andrew McIntosh’s findings were published by Le Journal de Montréal on June 20, 2014.
The judge who refused a bail to Battikh brought up the hypothesis of an accomplice
Faced with many inconsistencies at Chiheb Battikh’s bail hearing, Mr. Justice Claude Leblond brought up the idea that Battikh could have had an accomplice for the kidnapping. The judge could not conceive that Battikh could have handled, all by himself, the negotiations for the ransom while keeping the three-year-old child in his car in the middle of winter. The judge lacked information to conclude that Battikh had an accomplice but he was certain that Battikh withheld information: “Does this imply the presence of an accomplice? The tribunal cannot conclude so, but it believes that the accused has not told everything,” the judge said.
To support the thesis of an accomplice, Andrew McIntosh brought four main elements:
- After Battikh took control of the child at the F.X. Garneau Park in Outremont (Montreal), he did not run towards his own car that was parked north of park but went in the opposite direction instead;
- A cigarette butt and a half-empty bottle of water were found inside Chiheb Battikh’s car. A brand new pack of cigarettes was also found just outside his car. However, according to Ayman Oweida, a close friend of Battikh and another instructor at MAC’s Springs for Knowledge Islamist initiative, Battikh is a non-smoker. Montreal police did not send the butt and the bottle for DNA testing. The results could have been helpful to determine the presence of an accomplice. One sign amongst many of a botched police investigation.
- Only one walkie-talkie was found inside Chiheb Battikh’s car after his arrest. According to the Crown prosecutor, it belonged Battikh’s eldest son, Moez. Police investigators did not seize the walkie-talkie to determine whether it was in working order or if it had been used in the hours preceding the kidnapping;
- Shortly before the kidnapping, Chiheb Battikh received many phone calls from the area code 600. In Canada, calls made with prepaid cell phones often display this area code. These “burner phones” are often used by criminals because they are hard to trace. Montreal police investigators were unable to determine who called Battikh numerous times before the kidnapping.
Three key issues neglected by Montreal police investigators
In his report, Andrew McIntosh also mentioned three issues that were neglected by Montreal police investigators. All of them could have been relevant to determine whether Chiheb Battikh had an accomplice or not:
- Shortly after Chiheb Battikh’s arrest, Point de Bascule provided all the necessary leads to start an investigation about his involvement with the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) and the Muslim Brotherhood infrastructure in Canada. According to Andrew McIntosh, the Montreal police investigation did not spend any time trying to understand if the Islamist network knew about his leader’s plan to kidnap a child and if it was involved in it;
- In spite of the fact that Chiheb Battikh’s eldest son, Moez, had openly expressed his admiration for his father while the legal procedures were going on, it seems that he was never questioned by police. Moez Battikh frequently sings at events organized by the Muslim Brotherhood infrastructure in Canada. He performs under the name Moez Melon. Battikh means melon in Arabic. Two days after the arrest of his father, Moez Battikh posted a message on his Facebook page stating that “God is the only authority.” As Andrew McIntosh pointed out, “Those who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood consider that they are above the laws of the countries where they live and their national constitutions.” Moez Battikh also posted the Rabia sign on his Facebook page. The four fingers sign on a yellow background was first used by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in late August 2013 to show its support for ousted president Mohamed Morsi. On May 25, 2013, after his father’s request for a bail was rejected, Moez Battikh posted his own picture on his Facebook page with his father at his side. Moez Battikh praised his father in no uncertain terms: “Always my role model. You’ve never failed me.”
- Two USB flash drives were seized by police at Battikh’s residence in Laval after the kidnapping. They may have contained useful information about a potential accomplice but, incomprehensibly, the files that they contain were never examined by police.
A phone call from Saudi Arabia
While in police custody shortly after the kidnapping, Chiheb Battikh received a phone call informing him that his request for a visa had been approved for a trip in Saudi Arabia at the end of December 2012. This message was discovered by police seven months after it was placed. A police officer testified that he did not know why Battikh was planning to go to Saudi Arabia. The Muslim Association of Canada and Saudi Arabia have developed extensive links over the years: MAC received money from the Saudi terror-funding World Assembly of Muslim Youth in 2001 (Dar al-Iman was one of MAC’s alternate names back then) and in 2002; MAC’s travel agency (MAC Hajj) was officially endorsed by the Saudi embassy in Ottawa in 2010 and, in 2012 then MAC president Wael Haddara denounced the Canadian government for not being accommodating enough towards Saudi Arabia;
Chiheb Battikh’s Twitter list of following was modified by a trusted collaborator
On June 23, 2014, Andrew McIntosh published a second article entitled The kidnapper [Chiheb Battikh] follows his victim’s mother on Twitter. An excerpt reads as follows:
[Translation by Point de Bascule] Shameless, Chiheb Battikh, who is in jail since his arrest on December 19, 2012, still follows the daughter of a Quebec billionaire on his Twitter account, one of the most popular social networks.
During his incarceration, an inmate cannot access social networks with computers.
However, nothing stops family members – Battikh has a spouse and four grown-up children – to erase information on his Twitter account by getting his account’s password when they visit him in jail.[..] Battikh has never been a big fan of Twitter. He opened his account in September 2009 and has only published 31 messages. He follows 10 persons and 32 are following him.
We cannot publish the identity of the mother being followed on Twitter by Battikh because a Quebec Court judge has ordered to protect the identity of the family.
One week later, Andrew McIntosh informed his readers that somebody very close to Chiheb Battikh had modified his Twitter account and taken the name of the mother that he was following off his Twitter following list.
Point de Bascule: File Chiheb BATTIKH
Point de Bascule: File Muslim Association of Canada