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Guelph man now facing terrorism charges

WATCH ABOVE: A 22-year-old man from Guelph is facing two terrorism charges. He is accused of trying to join ISIS. Jamie Mauracher reports.

A Guelph man who had been arrested on a terrorism peace bond has been formally charged with terrorism offences, the RCMP said Friday.

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Ikar Mao, 22, is facing two criminal charges: participating in the activities of a terrorist group and leaving Canada to join a terrorist group.

“I want to reassure the citizens of the Greater Toronto Area and all Canadians, that our primary focus is the safety and protection of the public at all times,” said Chief Superintendent Michael LeSage, criminal operations officer in O Division, in a news release.

READ MORE: Ontario man arrested on terrorism peace bond after returning from Turkey

Mao appeared briefly in a Brampton courtroom on Friday wearing a winter coat and glasses.

The Crown, Howard Piafsky, officially withdrew the peace bond, and told reporters outside the courthouse that Mao turned himself in to the RCMP on the terror charges Friday morning.

Faisal Kutty, a lawyer representing Mao, told Global News he had no comment.

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Mao and his wife were arrested in Turkey in July on suspicions they were trying to join the Islamic State, the CBC reported in October.

The couple was eventually released and returned home to Canada.

WATCH BELOW: (Oct. 19, 2019) Global News visits ISIS detention camp in Syria

Mao was arrested last month at his home on the now-withdrawn peace bond over a “fear of terrorism offence” and released with a number of bail conditions.

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It’s illegal to attempt to leave Canada to join in terrorism-related activities, and the RCMP has sought terror peace bonds in cases where there is insufficient evidence to lay formal criminal charges.

A terror peace bond imposes bail-like restrictions on the conduct of terrorism suspects without formally charging them with a crime.

That Mao is now facing two criminal charges suggests that police believe they have sufficient evidence to pursue a criminal case.

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READ MORE: (April 3, 2019) Kingston youth accused of terrorist activities released after bail hearing

Mao will next appear in court on Wednesday morning.

Terrorism charges are rare in Canada. Earlier this year, the RCMP charged a youth in Kingston, Ont., with terrorism-related offences.

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