From the Toronto Star
Jul 30, 2009 04:30 AM
An ex-husband and young son gamely opened their mouths to federal agents yesterday, offering DNA samples to resolve questions about the passport photo of a Toronto woman stranded in Africa.
Asbscir Hussein, 42, and son Mohamed Asbscir Hussein, 12, allowed a federally appointed lab technician to photograph them twice, take their right thumbprints and swab their mouths four times – left, right, up, down.
Both subjects signed and initialled everything, along with consent forms and photocopies of their identity cards, overseen all the while by two intelligence officers from the Canada Border Services Agency.
Ottawa’s intention is to compare the samples to those taken Monday in Nairobi, Kenya, from Suaad Hagi Mohamud – living in limbo mostly at slum hotels since being stopped departing for Toronto more than two months ago for not looking like her four-year-old passport photo.
DNA results are expected within 10 working days.
"Why don’t you believe her?" ex-husband Hussein said he asked intelligence officer Andy Jenkins at a private interview after submitting the swabs.
"Maybe she is helping her sister," came the reply, the ex-husband recalled afterward.
If two sisters closely resemble each other, the theory goes, they might try to share a Canadian passport even if one is not Canadian.
Jenkins would not confirm or deny floating the hypothesis. An agency spokesperson refused to answer further questions.
But, so far, the suspicion that the woman in the passport photo might be Suaad Hagi Mohamud’s sister is the only one Ottawa has advanced to justify the unprecedented step of taking DNA samples from a Canadian citizen to resolve a passport photo question.
The hypothesis first surfaced second-hand from the federal justice department this week and was quickly denied.
Mohamud insists the photo is of herself. She has travelled twice before to Kenya on the same passport without a problem, she says.
She doesn’t have any sisters, she also points out. And her four half-sisters – by the same father – don’t look like her, she says.
"They are older," Mohamud said from Nairobi, her voice over the cellphone sounding high-pitched and strained with frustration.
"The youngest is about 15 years older than me," she said. "I am not in touch with them."
She said she thinks all four half-sisters live in Europe.
Toronto neighbour and friend Fartun Mohamed said she went to school in Mogadishu with all four: Maymuna, Amina and twins Makaba and Mulka.
Maymuna was still living in the Waldaag suburb of Mogadishu when Mohamed last saw her on a 2005 visit. The others live in Europe, she said.
Ex-husband Hussein said he thinks Makaba lives in Denmark, another one in Holland and two others in the United Kingdom.
Since being stopped at the airport 10 weeks ago, Suaad Hagi Mohamud has spent four days in airport custody, eight days in Nairobi’s Langata Women’s Prison and faces being jailed again or deported to her native Somalia unless Canada accepts her identity.