Ontario man pleads guilty to trying to join Islamic State militants in Syria

Pamir Hakimzadah admitted he left Canada to contribute ‘to the fight for Allah,’ but was caught beforehand

A 29-year-old Ontario man admitted Friday that he left Canada four years ago to try to join Islamic State militants in Syria after harbouring increasingly radical beliefs.

Pamir Hakimzadah, who is from Toronto, pleaded guilty to one count of leaving Canada to participate in a terrorist activity.

Hakimzadah left Toronto on Oct. 22, 2014 and flew to Istanbul where he tried to find a way into Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, said Crown lawyer Christopher Walsh, who was reading from an agreed statement of facts.

“The purpose of Pamir’s trip was to enter Syria via Turkey,” Walsh said. “There he intended to join a terrorist group known as ISIS or Daesh.”

The trip took place as Hakimzadah ”exhibited increasingly radical Islamic beliefs,” Walsh said.

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“He spoke either in favour or in defence of ISIS,” the prosecutor said. ”He viewed online ISIS content such as videos and posts. He also viewed a website that provided instructions on how to get into Syria.”

Four days after he arrived in Turkey, a taxi driver suspected Hakimzadah was attempting to join the terrorist group and turned him in to police, court heard.

Turkish authorities detained the lone traveller and deported Hakimzadah back to Canada on Nov. 19, 2014. He was also banned from Turkey for a year, court heard.

Hakimzadah “had previously commented that Muslims are being oppressed all over the world and that it’s up to other Muslims to go fight,” Walsh said.

His family did not share his views.

After he returned from Turkey, he admitted he left Canada to contribute “to the fight for Allah,” but was caught beforehand, court heard. A family member reported Hakimzadah to police.

Hakimzadah, dressed in a black sweater over a white collared shirt and black dress pants, sat quietly in the prisoner box during the proceedings. He smiled at his family in the courtroom while he was led out in handcuffs.

His brother smiled back, his father waved and his mother wept.

Hakimzadah returns to court on Feb. 26 for a sentencing hearing.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

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