Ismael Habib sentenced to 9 years for attempting to leave Canada to join ISIL

By The Canadian Press
September 29, 2017 - 11:45am

MONTREAL — Ismael Habib had been ready to do anything for the Islamic State, including dying for it, a Quebec court judge said Friday to justify the accused's nine-year prison term.

Judge Serge Delisle sentenced Habib to eight years in prison for attempting to leave Canada to join the Islamic State and one year for giving false information to obtain a passport.

"This was not the utopian and thoughtless project of a teenager who was manipulated or carried away by an impulse," Delisle told a Montreal courtroom.

"It was rather with perfect knowledge of the objectives of the Islamic State and the methods used by this entity that the offender multiplied the steps to return to Syria and join the Islamic State."

Habib was found guilty in June, making him the first adult in Canada to be convicted after going to trial on the charge of attempting to leave Canada to join ISIL.

The judge cited the 29-year-old Habib's "total adherence" to the principals and goals of ISIL as a central reason for the long sentence.

Delisle also justified the nine-year term by noting the court had not been presented with any evidence on Habib's prospects for rehabilitation.

The accused, wearing a black T-shirt, appeared to listen attentively to the judge's words but did not react as he was sentenced.

In his judgment, Delisle said the evidence presented at trial showed Habib had researched the organization extensively and had made his intentions clear.

"He wasn't counting on going there to play a passive role," Delisle continued. "He was ready for anything for the Islamic State, even to die."

The time Habib has already spend in custody was subtracted from the sentence, leaving him with slightly more than six-and-a-half years left to serve.

He will be eligible for parole after completing half the sentence.

A spokesman for the Crown said the judge had chosen a tough sentence that matched the Crown's recommendation.

"The message sent by the court is that people that are thinking to do the same thing should think twice," Francois Blanchette said outside the courtroom.

The defence had argued authorities coerced a confession out of Habib and that he was desperately trying to reunite with his wife and children somewhere in the Middle East after being denied a passport.

Habib's attorney had suggested six-and-a-half years minus the nearly 27 months Habib has served in pre-trial custody.

The 29-year-old was ensnared by an RCMP-led sting operation, in which he admitted to an undercover agent posing as a crime boss that he wanted to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State.

Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press

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