Canadian found guilty of trying to join Islamic State, in first case of its kind

Canadian found guilty of trying to join Islamic State, in first case of its kind
A 29-year-old Canadian was found guilty of attempting to join the Islamic State group in Syria, reports said on Tuesday, in the first case of its kind in Canada.
2 min read
20 June, 2017
The case was the first of its kind in Canada [Getty]

A 29-year-old Canadian man became the first to be found guilty at trial on Monday, under a law banning people from trying to leave Canada to commit a terrorist act.

Ismael Habib, the son of an Afghan father and a Canadian mother, had sought to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group, but came under police investigation in 2015 and was arrested last year.

Habib did not have a valid passport because it had been revoked after a failed 2012 attempt to reach Syria in which he was detained in Turkey and deported to Canada. His wife and two young children were reportedly living in war-torn Syria.

It was revealed at trial that Habib met a man who turned out to be an undercover policeman in an effort to obtain a fake passport.

The defence argued that police tricked him into confessing that he wanted to travel overseas to join IS and die for God.

But prosecutor Lyne Decarie said she was "satisfied" with the verdict, while defence attorney Charles Monpetit said it was "a bit of a shock."

Sentencing arguments are scheduled for August. 

Habib faces up to 10 years in prison under Canada's terrorism act, which enables authorities to bring charges against anyone suspected of participating in the activity of a terrorist group.

It also applies to cases in which a person "leaves or attempts to leave Canada."

In the past three years, authorities have detained several Canadians, including minors, for attempting to join IS, however Habib’s case is the first to arrive at a guilty verdict.

Thousands of western nationals have travelled to join IS ranks since the militant group captured swathes of land in Iraq and Syria.

A US-led anti-IS coalition has pushed back the militant group, retaking much of the territory it once held. Currently, IS holds just half of its former Iraqi bastion, Mosul as well as its caliphates' self-professed capital Raqqa in Syria.