Canada’s terrorism offenders are coming out of prison still radicalized
Mohamed got seven years.
But three years later, he was already out of prison on statutory release, although his parole report said he had not abandoned extremist ideology and remained a “significant” risk.
He was one of five terrorism offenders released from Canadian prisons in 2019, despite concerns raised by parole boards that four of them still posed a risk to public safety.
At least three more could be released this year.
Mohamed Hersi, sentenced to 10 years in 2014 for participating in the activities of the Somali terrorist group Al Shabab, is scheduled for statutory release on December 23.
Meanwhile, Rehab Dughmosh became eligible for day parole on Feb. 7, and Ismael Habib will be eligible on May 22. Both are eligible for full parole later this year.
None of those released last year are known to have committed violence since leaving prison, but parole board reports obtained by Global News suggest Canadian terrorism offenders are coming out still radicalized.
“There is no evidence to indicate that you are committed to changing your extremist ideological beliefs,” the Parole Board of Canada wrote two weeks before Kevin Omar Mohamed’s statutory release on March 2019.
The dangers that poses have become evident in the United Kingdom.
Attacks in London on Feb. 2, 2020 and Nov. 29, 2019 were carried out by terrorism offenders recently let out of prison after serving half their sentences, a policy the British government is now scrambling to undo.
Emergency legislation introduced in the U.K. on Feb. 11 would end automatic early release for those convicted of terrorism crimes, who would have to serve at least two-thirds of their sentences and face restrictions upon their release.
A Feb. 21 hammer attack that killed a 64-year-old woman on a Toronto street, and the subsequent police allegation that it was an act of terrorism, is a reminder that Canada has its own problems with extremist violence.
In Canada, most terrorism sentences since 2016 have been seven years or less, a review of Public Prosecution Service of Canada records shows. With time-and-a-half credit for pre-trial custody, and statutory release at the two-thirds mark, they are in fact substantially shorter.
Even Dughmosh, sentenced to seven years on Feb. 14, 2019 for trying to join ISIS and a 2017 attack at a Toronto Canadian Tire she justified on the grounds her religion instructed her to “kill every non-Muslim,” is already eligible for day parole.