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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Heavy rain in Okanagan results in slowest start to fire season in four years

119 hectares of land burned so far this year, compared to 991 ha in 2019, and 3,835 ha in 2018

Lake Country mine makes way for industrial project

Council holds a special meeting to rezone property

Water floods Vernon skate park, playground

Polson Park remains closed following Tuesday storms

Lumby man gives back for Canada Day

Food packages given away to those living on the streets in Vernon

Fond farewell to retiring Vernon teachers

Special socially-distant ceremony thanks St. James teachers

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

Dog rescued from rocky ledge in Summerland

Penticton Search and Rescue members perform high angle rescue

Tsilhqot’in Nation demands meeting with feds on declining Fraser River chinook stocks

The Nation wants to partner with DFO to rebuild and recover the stocks

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

In photos and video: Colourful Canada Day parade rolls through Sicamous

Patriotic procession allows community to celebrate together while maintaining distance

Northbound lane of Coquihalla closed after vehicle incident near Hope

A northbound lane is closed just north of the Great Bear Snowshed, according to DriveBC

Two rescued from tipped sailboat in Okanagan Lake near Kelowna

The two men were quickly brought to shore by a marine rescue crew

Most Read