08/26/2016 13:46 EDT | Updated 08/27/2017 01:12 EDT

Three plead guilty on terrorism-related charges after planning to join ISIL

OTTAWA — Three Ottawa men who debated committing a domestic terrorist attack, but instead decided to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, pleaded guilty on Friday to terrorism-related offences in Ontario Superior Court.

The group, including 25-year-old twins — Ashton and Carlos Larmond —were arrested in 2015 as part of an RCMP investigation called "Project Slipstream." Their co-conspirator is 23-year-old Suliman Mohamed.

On Friday, Ashton Larmond pleaded guilty to providing instructions to carry out an activity for the benefit of a terrorist group and was sentenced to 17 years in prison, minus 894 days for time already served.

Carlos Larmond pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group and was sentenced to seven years.

Mohamed pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to participate in the activities of a terrorist group and was also sentenced to seven years.

Other charges against the men were stayed and an agreed statement of facts was filed with the court.

During its investigation, the RCMP intercepted conversations between Ashton and his co-accused where they debated a December 2014 ISIL propaganda video released by John Maguire — a native of Kemptville, Ont. — in which he called on Canadian Muslims to either travel to Syria or Iraq to join ISIL or to conduct domestic attacks.

Maguire also made references to the October 2014 fatal attacks on Canadian soldiers in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

"There were a number of conversations that were intercepted between Ashton and his co-accused where they debated Maguire's message and what they saw their role to be in the jihadist conflict," Ashton's lawyer Joseph Addelman said in an interview.

"While there was a number of conversations where they did discuss the possibility of committing a domestic terrorist attack, in the end, the evidence demonstrates they opted for making the travel, the trip to the Middle East and physically joining ISIL's forces."

Ashton's passport had been taken away in 2013 because he was high on police radar, Addelman added.

"They knew all about him," he said.

Ashton was also the "driving force" behind the planning and the funding of efforts to get his co-accused — as well as a police agent who assisted the RCMP by recording private conversations — to the Middle East, Addelman added.

According to the agreed statement of facts, Ashton was arrested in the parking lot of a Quebec ski hill on Jan. 9, 2015 while a search warrant was executed at the residence he shared with Suliman in Ottawa's Vanier neighbourhood.

On the same day, Carlos travelled by train to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in Montreal to catch a flight to Frankfurt in an attempt to make his way to Syria. He was arrested by police while he was trying to board.

Suliman was arrested by undercover police on Jan. 12.

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