Toronto man who tried to join ISIS released from prison, official says

Click to play video: 'Crown seeks 6 years for man who tried to join ISIS'
Crown seeks 6 years for man who tried to join ISIS
Pamir Hakimzadah pleaded guilty in February to leaving Canada to join ISIS – Feb 26, 2019

A Toronto man convicted of travelling to Turkey to join the so-called Islamic State has been released from prison four months after he was sentenced, an official said Wednesday.

Pamir Hakimzadah was charged with terrorism in April 2017 following what the RCMP called an “extensive” national security investigation. He pleaded guilty in February 2019.

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He has now been freed from a maximum security prison in Penetanguishene, Ont., said Andrew Morrison, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General.

“The individual was admitted to the Central North Correctional Centre on April 4, 2019 and was released June 28, 2019 after completing his sentence,” Morrison told Global News.

The 30-year-old, who allegedly told a witness that “all non-Muslims should be killed,” must now serve three years on probation, during which time he must participate in de-radicalization.

He is also prohibited from possessing a firearm for three years, cannot obtain a passport and must undergo psychotherapy and meet weekly with an imam from the Risalah Foundation.

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Before Hakimzadah was released, Global News applied to attend his parole hearing. The Ontario Parole Board denied the request on June 25 on the grounds that no hearing was scheduled.

Asked why Hakimzadah had been released after serving two-thirds of his sentence, Morrison said, “It is not appropriate for the ministry to address details of an individual’s time in custody.”

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In February, the Parole Board of Canada said another Ontario man convicted of travelling to Syria to join a terrorist group was about to be released despite concerns he remained a risk.

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Kevin Omar Mohamed was sentenced to 4.5 years in October 2017, but with time served taken into account, was scheduled for release on March 1, 2019.

The latest case comes amid debate over whether the government should bring Jack Letts, a British-born Canadian, back to Canada and prosecute him after the U.K. revoked his citizenship.

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In an agreed statement of facts filed in court in February, Hakimzadah admitted he had travelled to Istanbul in October 2014 with the intention of crossing into Syria to join ISIS.

“Prior to his departure, Pamir had exhibited increasingly radical Islamic beliefs. He spoke either in favour or in defence of ISIS. He viewed online ISIS content such as videos and posts,” the statement said.

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Turkish authorities arrested Hakimzadah after he told a taxi driver he was going to Syria and deported him back to Canada.

According to allegations at his bail hearing, after returning to Toronto, he told his family he would try to travel to Syria again and that he would be “fulfilling the wishes of God to kill non-Muslims.”

Hakimzadah was arrested on June 27, 2016, when he tried to board a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul. He was initially charged with assault but the RCMP later charged him with leaving Canada to participate in terrorism.

Prosecutors wanted him to serve six years but on Feb. 28, a judge sentenced him to four years and one month. Considering the time he had already served, the judge gave him an additional six months.

He was released four months later.

At the sentencing, the judge said Hakimzadah had taken responsibility for his actions, had not continued to voice violent extremist views and had been “a positive role model.”

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