Aspects of terrorism-related Kingston arrests are ‘unusual’: security analyst

A crime and security analyst is calling the arrest of two people related to terrorism an “unusual” case, and outlines the process required before someone can be charged with terrorism under the Criminal Code of Canada.

On Friday morning, the RCMP arrested one youth and a second adult male after raids were conducted at two Kingston, Ont., residences.

The second adult male, identified as Hussam Eddin Alzahabi, 20, has since been released without charge.

The youth has been charged with “knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity” and “counselling a person to deliver, place, discharge or detonate an explosive or other lethal device” in a public place.

“What stands out is the fact it was a young offender that was involved,” said Dave Perry, a former police detective and now CEO of Investigative Solutions Network (ISN), a private investigations firm. “From what we are hearing so far, perhaps [he is] the ring leader of what we’re hearing about today, so I find that unusual.

“I find it unusual that they’ve arrested a second person, adult, and at least until now haven’t charged that person,” Perry said.

Perry explained that in order to apply a terrorism charge, the “first thing you need is the consent of the attorney general.”

“The police typically have to go before the attorney general and show the actions were targetting either religion or national security or ideological ideas,” he said.

Under the Canadian Criminal Code, terrorism is defined as an act committed in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause, and that is done with the intent of intimidating the public or a segment of the public or compelling someone to do or refrain from doing something.

Perry says that the FBI tip that began the investigation was “obviously one [police] gave a lot of credence to,” and from there would investigate it for “national security reasons.”

“[The police] would find these people, they would surveil these people, start investigating them and stay on them 24/7 until they got to the point where they either had enough evidence to make the arrest or [take] the risk, which would be an ongoing assessment, [in which] they had to act to prevent a terrorist attack,” he said.

RCMP Chief Spt. Michael LeSage said the investigation started in December 2018.

RCMP Spt. Peter Lambertucci, the officer in charge for INSET Ottawa, said “precursor” elements that could be used in explosives were found at one of the homes that was raided Thursday night, but officials say a bomb was never placed.

Officials said they detonated and neutralized a “substance” at a nearby parking lot.

While the Youth Criminal Justice Act prevented police from identifying the individual charged, Perry says age makes no difference when confronted with a terrorist charge.

“Everything else is exactly the same,” Perry said. “The most likely [scenario] in a serious case like this [is] they’ll apply to have him charged or at least tried as an adult.”

The youth appeared at a bail hearing in Kingston on Friday, and the case has been adjourned until Monday, when he will make another court appearance via video.

-With files from Rebecca Joseph, Stewart Bell and Amanda Connolly

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