A 28-year-old Quebec man has been charged with attempting to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group.
Ismael Habib made a brief court appearance in Montreal on Friday morning to be formally charged.
The RCMP has also charged him with making a false statement to obtain a passport
Habib was initially arrested in Gatineau last week and charged with criminal harassment, uttering threats and forging documents.
A bail hearing must be held in Gatineau for those charges before a court will decide whether to grant Habib bail on the terrorism-related charges.
“We’re opposing bail,” Crown prosecutor Lynne Décarie said following Habib’s court appearance. “It will be up to a judge to decide, but the Crown doesn’t believe he should get bail.”
He was transferred to Montreal because of the RCMP investigation.
Habib’s legal address is in the Montreal neighbourhood of Anjou, but the RCMP said he lives Gatineau.
He will be back in court March 14 to set a date for the Montreal bail hearing. The Gatineau bail hearing takes place on March 19.
Décarie declined to provide additional details about the case, such as Habib’s intended destination. But she didn’t rule out the possibility that further charges could be laid.
“It’s in constant evolution,” she said of the case. “The investigation is ongoing. And all this has to be analyzed in a very short time.”
Ismael Habib, 28, is also accused of making false statements in order to obtain a passport.
But the young man, who moved to Gatineau with his new girlfriend in December — while his wife and young children were allegedly in Turkey or Syria — first has to answer to four charges in Gatineau, for criminal harassment, uttering death threats and possessing false identification.
While the accusations faced by Habib in Gatineau and Montreal constitute two separate cases, they do appear to be linked, if only through Habib’s wife.
Romaissa, a Montrealer whose last name is covered under a court-ordered publication ban, has allegedly been in the Middle East with the couple’s two young children for the past year.
It appears things were not entirely smooth on the homefront.
She sent a photo to her husband’s ex-girlfriend — later presented in Gatineau court — of herself with her head and face completely covered. She holds her daughter in one hand and a Kalashnikov rifle in the other.
The message to the girlfriend was “You think you can win against this?,” Le Droit has reported.
Habib’s father-in-law testified in Gatineau that he believed his daughter was radicalized and worried for his grandchildren. As for Habib, he was not necessarily radicalized, but was trying to deepen his understanding of his faith, the father-in-law said.
Video statements made to the police by Habib and by his ex-girlfriend and shown in Gatineau court suggest he follows a strict form of Islam, which demands that women have their faces covered in public.
According to his now ex-girlfriend, Habib kept videos of beheadings and other materials related to ISIL on his tablet computer, and threatened to blow her up in her car.
When police in Gatineau arrested him in late February, he was carrying false identification, and also had in his possession a machine to clone credit cards as well as three cellphones, court has heard.
And last but not least: Montrealer suspected of trying to join ISIL back in court March 30
A former Montrealer charged with trying to leave Canada to participate in terrorist acts is expected back in court in Montreal March 30.
Habib was formally charged with trying to leave the country to commit terrorist acts, the same charge for which a Montreal teenager was convicted in December, and which carries a possible sentence of 10 years in jail.