Ismaël Habib, a 29-year-old Montrealer convicted of attempting to join a terrorist group abroad, was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday in Montreal. He is the first adult to be convicted in Canada for attempting to leave the country to rally a terrorist group abroad.
The judge imposed an eight-year sentence on the charge that he wanted to leave Canada illegally to go to Syria to fight in the ranks of the armed group Islamic State (EI).
Mr. Habib received an additional one-year sentence for making a false statement to obtain a passport. He had recognized his guilt last May.
The maximum term of imprisonment for the first count was 10 years. The judge ruled that a clear message of denunciation and deterrence should be sent.
He mentioned that Ismael Habib’s plan was carefully planned and that he had truly adhered to the philosophy of the IA by saying, for example, that he was ready to die as a martyr.
Extremely motivated, even obsessed, he is ready to do anything to leave Canada to go to Syria to integrate the EI … He did not intend to go there to play a passive role. He was willing to do anything for the EI, even to die.
Excerpt from the judgment of Serge Delisle
Mr. Habib’s lawyer claimed six and a half years of imprisonment, while the Crown sought nine.
Crown Attorney François Blanchette indicated that this is a “relatively severe” sentence.
“It is the very nature of the offenses, the level of premeditation that has been retained by the court,” says Blanchette. “And the fact that Mr. [Habib] adhered very intensively to the ideology behind the group that was identified in this case.”
According to Mr. Blanchette, the judge took into account in his judgment the lack of remorse on the part of the accused, who also did not testify on his chances of rehabilitation.
Ismaël Habib will have to serve at least half of his sentence before being eligible for parole.
The accused remained calm and did not react when he heard his judgment.
Appeal of punishment?
The conviction has already been appealed by the lawyer representing Ismaël Habib.
Charles Montpetit now has 30 days to appeal the sentence.
He wants to take the time to study the judgment and discuss with his client this possibility.
The lawyer acknowledged that it was a serious crime, but he expected a more lenient sentence.
There were only two cases of jurisprudence on which the Crown and the defense could be relied upon to suggest an appropriate sentence.
On June 19, the father of a family had been found guilty of wanting to leave Canada illegally to go to Syria, in order to fight alongside the IA.
In a 15-page decision, Judge Serge Delisle considered that Habib’s testimony during his trial contained contradictions that undermined his credibility.
According to the defense, Ismael Habib wanted to go to Syria to rescue his wife and children, who had remained in the country plagued by terrorism and a violent civil war. The judge did not retain this version.
Operation “Mr Big”
The magistrate also ruled in March that the incriminating statements made by the accused in early 2016 in connection with a “Mr. Big” operation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were fully permissible. evidence.
In such an operation, undercover agents approach the suspect by claiming to be criminals seeking to recruit him. The objective is to win the confidence of the individual and then make him confess.
In the case of Ismael Habib, RCMP officers posing as bandits had offered to help him illegally leave Canada to go to Syria, where he had to work for smugglers.
Speaking with them, he said he wanted to join the IE and talked about a trip he had made to Syria in 2013.
At that time, he had made various incriminating searches on the web, including the IE and the geography of Syria. He also watched videos of BE beheading, according to a witness heard in court.
Nine months in prison for death threats in another case
At the beginning of the week, Ismaël Habib was sentenced to nine months in prison at the Gatineau courthouse for uttering death threats against his former wife and harassing her.
According to the facts presented at trial, Habib forced his spouse to watch videos of jihadist fights. He also wanted to force her to wear a veil against her will and demanded that she abandon her job because she was with men.
He also told the victim that he intended to put a bomb under his car if she denounced him to the police.