Toronto man sentenced to 4 years for trying to get into Syria to join ISIL

Pamir Hakimzadah, 29, pleaded guilty in early February

A Toronto man who tried to join Islamic State militants in Syria was sentenced to just over four years in prison on Thursday after a judge found he had taken responsibility for his actions and abandoned his radical views.

Pamir Hakimzadah, 29, pleaded guilty in early February to one count of leaving Canada to participate in a terrorist activity.

Justice John McMahon said Hakimzadah’s guilty plea, his age, his family’s support, the fact he didn’t end up joining Islamic militants and his commitment to participating in a deradicalization program were all factors in the man’s favour.

“Luckily for the accused, his family and Canada, he was arrested shortly after arriving in Turkey,” McMahon said. “He neither counselled others to join the organization, he didn’t actually join and has taken responsibility for his actions and didn’t continue to voice the same views.”

The Crown had sought a six-year sentence while the defence asked for a sentence of three years and seven months.

McMahon settled on a sentence of four years and one month for Hakimzadah, plus three years probation. After receiving credit for time already spent in custody, Hakimzadah will spend six more months behind bars, but is eligible to apply for parole in three months.

In September 2014, Hakimzadah told his family he wanted to go to Montreal to hang out with friends for a few weeks, according to an agreed statement of facts.

That was a ruse, court heard.

READ MORE: Toronto woman found guilty of terror charges in Canadian Tire attack

Before leaving home, Hakimzadah had displayed increasingly radical views, and had begun reading about the Islamic State militants and watching their propaganda videos, court heard.

On Oct. 22, 2014, Hakimzadah boarded a KLM flight to Amsterdam where he connected on another flight to Istanbul. He arrived in Turkey the following day.

He was travelling around Istanbul alone, court heard, and four days later a taxi driver turned him over to police. He was banned from Turkey for a year and in mid-November authorities sent him back to Canada.

“He did not turn back because he had a change of heart or decide it was the right thing to do: he was apprehended by a taxi driver who thought he was trying to go to Syria to join ISIS,” McMahon said, using another name for the extremist group. “Remarkably, he was deported back to Canada without notification of Canadian authorities.”

Hakimzadah, a former engineering student, later admitted to a family member that he had travelled to Turkey in an effort to join the terrorist group. He was turned over to police by a family member in 2016, court heard.

The defence had argued for a shorter sentence for Hakimzadah, saying he was committed to a deradicalization program and psychiatric counselling.

Hakimzadah’s lawyer told the court he had lined up two imams in Vaughan, Ont., who have been involved with deradicalizing members of the so-called “Toronto 18” group, which planned — but did not execute — a series of terror attacks in southern Ontario in 2006.

“He will be meeting with an imam from the Risalah Foundation to talk about the proper teachings of Islam and to reach a point of insight to see the path he went down,” defence lawyer Luka Rados said outside court.

READ MORE: Peace bond hearing withdrawn for B.C. couple cleared in legislature bomb plot

The Crown had been dubious about the plan, but the judge agreed with the defence’s program and ordered it as part of Hakimzadah’s three-year parole period.

The judge said there were many other factors in Hakimzadah’s favour that helped lower the sentence. One included Hakimzadah telling court Tuesday he took full responsibility for his actions.

“I want you to know I will absolutely abide by any sentence that court imposes on me,” Hakimzadah had said. “I look forward to being reunited with my family.”

The judge cited Hakimzadah’s tutoring of high school students in science and math as another mitigating factor in the sentence, along with his charity work to help feed the homeless.

“I want to make sure you go down the civil engineering path,” McMahon said.

Hakimzadah nodded in agreement before being led out of the court in handcuffs.

Liam Casey , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

New Democrats would bring in $25 daycare if re-elected: Notley

Notley said the plan would include adding 13,000 daycare spaces

Upcoming Castor Byelection sees two names on ballot

Residents of Castor are going to the polls for the first time in over half a decade

Gus Wetter School hosts annual Early Years Fair

For fans of Paw Patrol, Wednesday Mar. 20 was quite an event in Castor

Funding requests and maintenance highlight County council Feb 12 meeting.

Friends of Coronation School Playground have submitted a request to County council for funding

Supporters rally for Jason Kenney as UCP leader stops in Red Deer

Kenney promises equalization reform, stopping ‘Trudeau-Notley’ payroll hike, trade, economic mobility

Edmonton judge rules Omar Khadr’s sentence has expired

Eight-year sentence imposed in 2010 would have ended last October had Khadr remained in custody

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

Social media comments continue to dog ranks of United Conservative candidates

Eva Kiryakos was running in Calgary-South East in the April 16 vote

Apple announces its long-awaited streaming TV service

The iPhone has long been Apple’s marquee product and main money maker, but sales are starting to decline

Trudeau delivers campaign-style speech while introducing candidate Taggart

The Order of British Columbia recipient said she wants to be the people’s voice in Ottawa

15 Canadians on cruise ship that was stranded off Norway; one injured

The cruise ship was carrying 1,373 passengers and crew when it issued a mayday call on Saturday afternoon

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Most Read