TORONTO — An Ontario man who travelled to Syria to support an Islamic militant group will spend another two years behind bars after pleading guilty to a terror charge, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Kevin Omar Mohamed was sentenced in a Toronto court to 4 1/2 years in prison, with 2 1/2 years credit for time already served, his lawyer Paul Slansky said.
Mohamed, 25, has been in custody since his arrest in March 2016 on weapons-related charges, which were later changed to a terror charge.
He pleaded guilty in early June to one count of participating in or contributing to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity.
"Although there was no evidence presented to support this and, accordingly, no finding made to support this, my client did what he did to help the Syrian people to secure the overthrow of the (Bashar al-Assad) regime," Slansky said in an email.
"Obviously, this was not the way to proceed. He now recognizes this and accordingly pleaded guilty."
Details of the case were made public for the first time Monday at Mohamed's sentencing hearing.
An agreed statement of facts read in court laid out how the former University of Waterloo student flew to Turkey in the spring of 2014 and made his way into Syria, where he met with members of Jabhat-Al-Nusra, a listed terrorist group.
"His purpose was to enhance the ability of that group to commit terrorist activity," the statement said.
Mohamed returned to Canada roughly a month later after his mother and brother convinced him to come home, it said.
Court heard Mohamed also encouraged others to join militants in Syria through social media, which he used under several pseudonyms. On one of his accounts, he described himself as "a supporter of international terrorism," the statement said.
While overseas, he tweeted a public invitation for others to join him, stressing how easy it was to enter through Turkey, court heard. On another occasion, he suggested it was easy to avoid detection from "security agencies" when travelling to Syria.
Later tweets urged those who share his beliefs to move to "lands of jihad" or consider carrying out attacks in their own communities, the statement said.
Mohamed left his mother's home in Whitby, Ont., east of Toronto, in February of last year and was put under police surveillance, the document said. But Mohamed caught on, withdrew $3,500 and went offline, managing to evade police for several days, it said.
His mother reported him missing to both local police and RCMP later that month.
Police tracked Mohamed in March of last year to the University of Waterloo campus, where he was sleeping in empty rooms, the statement said. He was arrested on March 25.
Officers found a black computer bag that belonged to him and that contained a large hunting knife, heavy work gloves, a wallet and two sets of keys, court heard.
They obtained a warrant to search lockers that matched they keys and found a number of items, including pages of handwritten notes marked with the Arabic word for assassination, the document said.