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Ontario teen worked with attack planner in Syria to plot bombings for ISIS

Boy charged, man arrested in terrorism investigation in Kingston, ON
A raid in Kingston, Ontario may have prevented a terror attack; One teenage boy is charged, and a man has been arrested (Original airdate: Jan 25, 2019)

A teenager admitted in Ontario court on Tuesday he had pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State and worked with an attack planner based in Syria to plot bombings.

From his home in Kingston, the Syrian-Canadian youth collaborated through social media with a figure known as “Abu Umar Ibrahim,” who encouraged him and guided his bomb-making.

Nightclubs, churches and sporting venues were discussed as possible targets. While he was preoccupied with bombs, police also found materials referring to poisons, vehicular attacks and burning people inside their homes.

“All those ways are good to kill Christians,” according to an audio file uncovered by police.

The youth, who was 16 at the time and cannot be named because he is a minor, pleaded guilty to four terrorism offences and breaching his release conditions by removing his ankle monitor.

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The Crown is seeking an adult sentence.

Read more: Toronto ISIS attacker denied parole after she threatens to attack again: documents

The RCMP said almost nothing after the high-profile Kingston terrorism arrest in January 2019, refusing to respond to questions about the suspect’s motive and never acknowledging it was an ISIS plot.

But the guilty plea provided the first public look at the troubling details of the case, one of a growing number involving Canadian ISIS supporters.

The plot has the hallmarks of a “remote-controlled” attack — one conducted by an operative living inside a Western country, but with encouragement and guidance from ISIS figures in Syria.

An agreed statement of facts was read into the court record, with an Arabic interpreter providing translation for the accused, who is originally from Syria.

Asked by the judge if he admitted to the facts detailed by the Crown over several hours, the youth simply replied, “Yes.”

Calgary man charged with terrorism offences after complex investigation
Calgary man charged with terrorism offences after complex investigation

“In an Agreed Statement of Facts filed with the court, the young person admitted to manufacturing an explosive substance, Triacetone Triperoxide (TATP), with the objective of manufacturing an explosive device to place either in a public place or to place under a police or military vehicle with the intent of killing innocent people,” the Public Prosecution Service of Canada said in a statement.

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“The objective was to commit terrorist activities for the benefit of a listed terrorist entity (that called itself the ‘Islamic State’). A search of his residence resulted in the seizure of all the necessary materials to build an explosive device.”

“He also admitted to creating a PowerPoint presentation detailing the instructions on building a successful pressure cooker bomb, and disseminating it through various communications application,” the PPSC said.

“After providing the instructions, he counseled an individual to build the device and place it in a bar, a public place, in order to kill innocent people.”

Read more: Alleged ISIS member from Calgary charged with terrorism: RCMP

The events took place in late 2018 and early 2019, as ISIS was collapsing in Syria. Despite his age, the Kingston youth repeatedly expressed his support for ISIS, and his determination to kill for the terror group.

Building bombs was his main focus. Using social media channels, he communicated time and again with Ibrahim about bomb-making, and indicated he was in Canada.

After he asked Ibrahim if he knew any “brothers” in the U.S., the Syrian-based jihadist connected him with a U.S. contact he thought was a “lone wolf.”

The youth then began communicating with the U.S. contact about targets and sent him detailed bomb instructions, but the American turned out to be an undercover informant working for the FBI, which tipped off the RCMP.

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When police searched his bedroom following his arrest, they found an assortment of chemicals and tools used to manufacture explosive devices.

Ottawa being pushed to repatriate Canadians from ISIS camps
Ottawa being pushed to repatriate Canadians from ISIS camps

His online search history and electronic devices also revealed his involvement in terrorism.

He is now 17.

ISIS has repeatedly tried to incite and direct attacks in Western countries, including Canada, which was singled out because it is part of the anti-ISIS military coalition.

The Kingston case is similar to that of Abdulrahman El-Bahnasawy, a Mississauga youth who connected online with ISIS to plan a bombing in New York, unaware the FBI had infiltrated the plot.

An 18-year-old with mental health challenges at the time, El-Bahnasawy was arrested during a family trip to New Jersey in 2016. He pleaded guilty and is now serving a 40-year sentence.

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Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca