MONTREAL – A Quebec man was found guilty on Monday of attempting to leave the country to participate in activities of a terrorist group – a conviction that carries a maximum 10-year sentence.
In handing down his ruling, Quebec court Judge Serge Delisle said Ismael Habib‘s version of events lacked credibility.
There is relatively little jurisprudence related to the charge as it was only added to the Criminal Code in 2013.
The Crown had accused Habib of attempting to leave Canada with a plan to join Islamic State in Syria.
“The Crown is of course satisfied because we were asking that he be found guilty and we didn’t think his version was credible,” prosecutor Lyne Decarie told reporters.
The defence argued that authorities coerced a confession out of his client, who was desperately trying to reunite with his wife and children somewhere in the Middle East.
“He seemed quite serene,” defence lawyer Charles Montpetit said of his client before the verdict was handed down. “You saw him. He didn’t appear frustrated.
“(But, right now, after the verdict), he might be a bit surprised and in shock.”
Montpetit believes there is room for clemency for his client, considering he “wasn’t necessarily a man who was motivated to do bad things here in Canada.”
The case presented by prosecutors demonstrated that Habib told undercover RCMP officers twice during an elaborate sting operation in February 2016 he wanted to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.
Habib had already been found guilty in May of the other charge he was facing in the indictment: giving false information to obtain a passport.
Sentencing arguments have been scheduled for Aug. 17.