Terrorism charges laid against Calgary man after 7-year investigation

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The Alberta RCMP’s National Integrated Law Enforcement Team laid terrorism charges against a Calgary man following a seven-year investigation.Hussein Sobhe Borhot, 34, of Calgary, has been charged with three counts of participating in the activity of a terrorist group and one count of committing an offense for a terrorist group, RCMP said in a press release.

Between May 2013 and June 2014, Borhot traveled to Syria, where he contributed to ISIS activities and received training from the terrorist group, investigators said.

Police said he also knowingly committed the kidnapping offense.

These types of investigations are particularly complex, RCMP spokesman Fraser Logan told CBC.

“The investigation is still ongoing, there are hopes that there could be further charges or arrests… against other people,” Logan said. “I’m not sure if there will be any further charges against Borhot. ”

The three counts of participation in the activity of a terrorist group include Borhot “entering Syria, enlisting, participating, receiving training, committing terrorist activities and kidnappings for or under the direction of the state Islamic, ”Logan said.

Accused to appear in court on Friday

The charges, including the kidnapping charge, are based on his activities in Syria. None of the charges have been proven in court.

Borhot is currently in custody and will appear on July 24 in Calgary Provincial Court.

CBC News reported in March 2017 that Borhot was among several men with connections in Calgary whose names were discovered on IS documents that appeared to be application forms for membership in the terrorist organization.

On the paperwork, Borhot listed his profession as a “plumber” and noted that his level of “Shariah” – the legal code of Islam, based on the Quran – was basic.

In November 2017, CBC News reported that officers from Canada’s Federal Counter-Terrorism Security Force questioned a Calgary man, Yacine Meziane, about Borhot’s whereabouts.

Difficult investigations

Amarnath Amarasingam, an assistant professor at Queen’s University School of Religion who has studied radicalization, said police likely received new information before laying the charges.

“It’s very difficult to collect information in Syria that could stand in a Canadian court,” Amarasingam told CBC. “It would have been extremely difficult for the RCMP to prove that they joined a listed terrorist agency from that time on. So I think that’s probably the reason why it took so long.

“This additional accusation that they made over there today about an abduction probably suggests new information they received from another source, possibly another country, that they are now feel confident enough to use in court and charge him with these previous offenses. ”

IS is the militant group that has taken control of territory in Iraq and Syria and implemented a harsh form of Islamic law.

ISIS fighters are known for their videos depicting the beheadings of journalists and aid workers. They are accused by the United Nations of crimes against humanity for carrying out mass executions, abducting women and girls for use as sex slaves and for using child soldiers.

“Long game”

Amarasingam said the length of the investigation shows the RCMP are serious about tracking Canadians returning from the fighting in Syria.

“It’s telling that they’re playing the long game, that even after five or six years, they’re ready to lay charges against an individual who, from all the evidence I spoke with in Calgary, has basically evolved in his life. , is not radicalized now, somehow lives his life with his family, just goes to work and so on, ”Amarasingam said.

“Having him charged five years later shows that the RCMP are very determined to follow these cases through… If they can find the right kind of evidence, we could see more costs for other people as well. ”

Amarasingam said there is a movement among some researchers and community workers to help returning combatants rehabilitate and reintegrate into society.

Individuals who have been de-radicalized, especially if they criticize the groups they joined, could be used to “talk to young people about the dangers of these types of groups,” he said. “So there’s this other movement going on that sort of moves away from arrest and jail, especially if you don’t have the evidence to be successful in court. ”

When Borhot left Syria, his reason given was that he was planning to go “join the brothers in Lebanon”, but he actually returned to Canada in the spring of 2014.

“It is also important to keep in mind that this individual has not done anything since his return to Canada. There is no evidence of radicalization, there is no evidence of conspiracy, as far as we can tell, there is no evidence that it has endangered public safety for the past five years, ”a said Amarasingam.

“I think it’s a bit, maybe unfair is the wrong word, but a bit strange to accuse someone six years after the fact, especially when they haven’t joined the organization as we have it. know today. It will be interesting to see what sort of evidence is presented in the case because I think this kidnapping charge is very interesting. As more details emerge, it may become clear that he has done a lot more in Syria than we realize, but we’ll have to wait and see. ”

The fate of former Canadian ISIS activists and their families has been the subject of heated debate on the floor of the House of Commons in the past, with Conservatives accusing the Liberals of welcoming jihadist fighters into their homes.

Human Rights Watch says the Canadian government should immediately bring all of its detained citizens home to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into Canadian society and, if applicable, prosecute anyone accused of a crime.

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