Shomporko Online News Desk: According to records detailing how federal officials handled nationals kidnapped in Syria, prosecutors have approved charges against a captured Canadian ISIS warrior.
The charges are the first known to have been approved against a Canadian member of the so-called Islamic State who has been captured in Syria.
They were revealed in records supplied to Global News under the Access to Information Act by Global Affairs Canada (GAC).
“The Ali charge package has now been approved by PPSC,” read the ‘secret’ report by GAC’s Task Force on International Critical Incidents.
PPSC is the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, which handles terrorism cases.
The only Canadian ISIS member named Ali who is in custody in Syria is Mohammed Ali, a 30-year-old resident of Mississauga, Ont., captured by U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters shortly before the June 25, 2018 report was distributed.
Also known as Abu Turab Al-Kanadi, Ali has told Global News he was part of an ISIS sniper team. On social media, he called for terrorist attacks in Canada, gave advice on how to join ISIS, and joked about beheadings.
“Can’t wait for the day ISIS beheads the first American soldier: D #SoccerAnyone,” one of his Tweets read.
In an interview following his capture in 2018, he said he had “learned a lot of things … 2014 was a long time ago, a different time. The killing of civilians is not really justified Islamically. I haven’t seen any justification yet. It doesn’t really help anyone because … it’s not really a good idea.”
Despite the approval of charges more than three years ago, Ali remains in detention in northeast Syria and there is no sign the Canadian government has attempted to bring him back to Canada to stand trial.
His wife, former Vancouver resident Rida Jabbar, and their children are being held at a camp for ISIS families.
The RCMP, whose Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Toronto conducted the investigation, declined to comment, citing “privacy concerns and the potential risk to any ongoing investigations.”
Charge approval is only the first stage of prosecution. Criminal charges must then be filed in court. That does not appear to have happened yet, likely because Ali remains in Syria.
“The PPSC has no information to provide at this time,” spokesperson Sabrina Nemis responded when asked about the documents.
“As a matter of policy, the PPSC cannot confirm or deny charges or investigations unless or until charges are laid.”
National security law expert Leah West said the approval of charges “flies in the face of everything authorities have been saying in response to these questions since 2018.”
In defending its decision not to repatriate the Canadians detained in Syria to face charges, the government has said that finding evidence to prove what they did in Syria was challenging, she said.
“Consistently that was the message all the way up to the prime minister,” said West, a former federal government national security lawyer.
“This proves the point many of us have been making for years, that there is enough to proceed with charges.”
The prosecution of Ali was disclosed in 750 pages of government documents on Canadians detained in Syria that were released to Global News after almost three years, following a complaint that was upheld by the information commissioner.
The records were heavily redacted, but provide some insights.
They indicate that in 2017, family members and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service told GAC about “a number of Canadian citizens who are currently in Syria and seeking to return to Canada.”
“These individuals are alleged to have traveled to Syria to join ISIS,” read a memo to the minister at the time.
The Canadians were in territory controlled by the Syrian regime, ISIS, and the Kurdish Union Democratic Party (PYD), whose fighters control northeast Syria.
In July 2017, GAC made contact with Kurdish authorities, who “confirmed they had Canadians in their custody,” according to the memo, classified Secret-Canadian Eyes Only.
In January 2018, the Kurds sent GAC a list of Canadians in their custody. They also asked a government delegation from Canada to visit Syria to discuss the situation.
GAC, on the other hand, declined for security reasons, describing Syria as a “no-go” zone.
In February 2018, a diplomat at Canada’s embassy in Baghdad wrote, “The security dangers and political uncertainty are simply too unpredictable, with very little ability to respond to support our people should something go wrong.”
Source_ The Star