A Quebec activist who fought the stereotyping of Muslims was charged with supporting terrorism on Friday after an RCMP investigation linked her to an alleged scheme to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Mouna Diab, 26, was charged with committing a crime “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group,” the RCMP said in a statement. She faces a possible life sentence if convicted.
The Laval woman was arrested at Montreal’s Trudeau airport last year and accused of violating an international arms embargo targeting Lebanon, but police added the far more serious terrorism charge on Friday.
The charge against Ms. Diab followed an investigation called Project Sagittaire by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Quebec. Police alleged she bought firearms parts in the Montreal area to send to Lebanon and that they could be reassembled to build two complete AR-15-type rifles.
“It is alleged that Diab was acting under the direction of a contact person in Lebanon who is associated with Hezbollah,” the RCMP said in a press release. Quebec provincial police and Montreal police were also involved in the investigation.
Firearms parts were found in her luggage at Montreal airport on May 19, 2011. “Based on gathered evidence it is also alleged that she was shipping firearms parts through people in her community traveling to Lebanon. The victims were unaware of the contents of the packages they were carrying for the accused,” the RCMP said.
The Hezbollah presence in Canada goes back at least two decades. In 1993, a Hezbollah member named Mohamed Hussein Al Husseini told the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that Hezbollah had operatives “in all of Canada.” Several senior Hezbollah members are alleged to be Canadians, including Faouzi Ayoub, a former Toronto man who took part in a hijacking and was added to the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list last July.
Militaristic Hezbollah flags have appeared at demonstrations in Toronto and Montreal as recently as last August, and in 2007 members of Windsor’s Lebanese community erected a commercial billboard featuring Hezbollah boss Hassan Nasrallah. It was taken down following complaints.