A Montreal man’s conviction this week of trying to join the terrorist group ISIS is being heralded by intelligence experts as proof Canadian laws can deal with national security threats.
The significance of Monday’s ruling is also heightened by the belief of some observers that many more Quebecers could be seeking to take part in terrorist activities overseas.
Ismael Habib, 29, is the first adult to be found guilty following a trial of a new Canadian law that prohibits people from trying to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group.
“My reaction was very, very positive, in fact I was quite thrilled,” said Phil Gurski, a former CSIS analyst and author of several publications dealing with terrorism.
“I thought it showed a few things: First and foremost that the Canadian justice system does take terrorism and the threat of terrorism seriously.”
But Habib’s conviction also demonstrated that investigators have the tools at their disposal to gather the evidence they need to secure a guilty verdict, he said.
”The evidence stands the court’s test and it can be used to get a conviction,” he added.
The law, section 83.181, was created by the Harper government in 2013. Habib’s case is the first time the law was tested in an adult’s trial: a 2016 case saw an Ontario man plead guilty to the charge and an earlier case in Quebec youth court saw a teenager found guilty of the same section.
“We are very satisfied,” federal prosecutor Lyne Décarie said Tuesday.
Mr. Big tactic helpful to get confession
The Crown and investigators have two reasons the celebrate: the guilty verdict, and an earlier decision in the Habib trial that allowed evidence obtained through a controversial police tactic.
In the weeks leading up to his February 2016 arrest, undercover RCMP officers were buddying-up with the would-be terrorist.