Quebec man gets nine-year sentence for terrorism-related crime
Published Friday, September 29, 2017 9:23AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, September 30, 2017 8:44AM EDT
A 29-year-old man from Gatineau who was found guilty in June of trying to join a terrorist organization in the Middle East has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Ismael Habib is first Canadian to be convicted of trying to join a terror organization. In his particular case, he tried to leave Canada with a fake passport.
Under the law, adopted during the rise of ISIS in 2013, Habib faced a maximum of ten years in prison just for trying to join the terrorist group.
Habib will serve an eight year-sentence, plus one additional year in prison for making a false or misleading statement to obtain a passport.
During the trial, it was shown that Habib fell into a trap set by the RCMP when agents passed themselves off as criminals willing to provide him with a fake passport and the means to reach the Middle East.
Habib made it clear to the RCMP undercover agents that his goal was to reach Syria, join ISIS, and to fight and possibly die for his cause.
Federal prosecutor Lyne Decarie urged the judge to sentence Habib to a minimum of nine years behind bars, arguing it was time to send a message to people wanting to do the same.
However former CSIS agent Michel Juneau-Katsuya believes Habib's sentence will not act as a deterrent.
"In criminology we studied a long time ago that the deterrent doesn't come from the possibility of being punished or the severity of the punishment because usually the criminals don't expect to be caught," he said.
The defence argued that a lesser sentence of six and a half years behind bars was sufficient, claiming that Habib's intention was really to meet up his wife and two children, who by then were living in Syria. The defence said he never really espoused the ideology of the jihad.
Crown prosecutor Francois Blanchette did not believe that argument.
"The fact that Mr. Habib adhered very, very intensively to that ideology and it seems that the message that was sent was the effect that a person that would be attempted to do the same thing would not be welcome to do so," he said.
The judge sentenced Habib to eight years for trying to join ISIS, and another year attempting to use a fake passport.
The Crown is pleased with the sentence.
"It's a very high sentence," said Blanchette. "The sentence is in accordance with what was asked by the Crown and you heard the judge saying that all the facts were considered very precisely."
Habib was charged in March 2016 and has been held in custody since.
Both parties have 30 days to decide whether to appeal the sentence.