A Calgary man has been charged with terrorism offences for allegedly travelling to Syria in 2013 and joining the so-called Islamic State, the RCMP said on Wednesday.
The charges allege that Hussein Sobhe Borhot participated in a kidnapping on behalf of ISIS.
The arrest of the 34-year-old followed what police described as an “extensive and complex” national security investigation that spanned seven years.
He was taken into custody in Calgary on Tuesday and faces four terrorism-related charges including participation in the activity of a terrorist group and commission of an offence for a terrorist group.
The case marks a rare prosecution of a suspected ISIS returnee — a Canadian alleged to have returned home after serving overseas in the terrorist group.
“Between May 9, 2013 and June 7, 2014, Hussein Sobhe Borhot travelled to Syria where he contributed to activities of a terrorist group, the Islamic State (IS),” the RCMP said.
“During this time, Hussein Sobhe Borhot enlisted with IS, received training for the purpose of enhancing the ability of IS, knowingly participated or contributed to the activities of the group and knowingly committed the offence of kidnapping at the direction of, or in association with the terrorist group.”
He was remanded into custody and will appear in court on Friday.
ISIS files smuggled out of Syria show a Canadian with a similar name and birth date enlisted as a fighter in 2013. He provided a Calgary phone number.
His ISIS entry form described him as a pipe fitter and identified him as Hussein Baraat, aka Abu Othman Al-Kanadi, a Lebanese-Canadian.
The files also show he left Syria on May 30, 2014 through the Azzaz border crossing. The reason for his departure was listed as, “joining the brothers in Lebanon.”
“I’ve known about Hussein Borhot for a long time, and it was indeed surprising that he had not been charged,” said Prof. Amarnath Amarasingam, a Queen’s University terrorism expert.
“But, from all my interviews in Calgary, it did seem like he had turned his life around and had moved on with his life. And it is worth pointing out that there’s no evidence as of yet that he was doing anything to endanger public safety in the years after he returned.”
“The arrest shows that the RCMP is very much interested in charging returnees, even if it takes many many years to build a case. But, sadly, it may also suggest to some cynics that taking this long to build a case is exactly the problem, as someone more dangerous could have had a lot of time to plan some sort of attack back in Canada.”
The investigated was conducted by the Alberta Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET).
“Canada is not immune to terrorist threats, and INSETs are key players defending Canada’s national security,” said Supt. Stacey Talbot, Officer-in-Charge of “K” Division INSET.
The RCMP said the investigation “remains ongoing and could result in further arrests or charges.”