Kingston youth pleads guilty to terror charges after January 2019 arrest

OTTAWA — A teenager arrested in an RCMP raid in Kingston, Ont., last year has pleaded guilty to a series of terrorism-related charges for trying to encourage and facilitate a bomb attack.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be identified under the terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, admitted to the four charges — plus another for violating his bail conditions — during a video appearance in the Ontario Court of Justice in Belleville, Ont., on Tuesday.

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Sentencing is expected at a later date. The Crown is asking that the youth be sentenced as an adult. Justice Elaine Deluzio ordered a psychiatric assessment and a pre-sentence report be compiled, with the case expected back in court on Sept. 29.

The Canadian Press monitored the proceedings via telephone due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RCMP arrested the youth during a raid in Kingston on Jan. 25, 2019, following an investigation initiated by a tip from the FBI in the United States after the teen began unwittingly communicating with an FBI undercover agent.

According to an agreed statement of facts read in English by the Crown and translated into Arabic in court, the youth thought the agent was a "lone wolf" Islamic terrorist in Virginia who needed support.

The youth sent the agent instructions on how to build a pressure-cooker bomb. He also encouraged him to build it and plant it in a public place, such as a bar, to kill "infidels," according to the statement of facts, saying such an attack would help the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

While the RCMP have said an explosive device was not planted, the court heard police seized a number of explosive substances and that the youth admitted to manufacturing an explosive substance and planned to put it in a public place or beneath a police or military vehicle.

He also admitted to creating a PowerPoint presentation with instructions on how to build a pressure-cooker bomb and disseminating the information online.

The youth pleaded guilty Tuesday to facilitating a terrorist activity, possession of an explosive substance with intent to injure or kill, taking action to cause an explosion and counselling another person to detonate an explosive device to cause injury or death.

He also admitted to breaching his bail conditions for failing to wear a tracking device.

Like the rest of the proceeding, the charges were read in English and translated into Arabic. The youth, who at one point was warned by the judge to keep his eyes open, pleaded guilty to each charge in Arabic.

The youth's arrest in January 2019 caused a stir following an investigation that included assistance from the FBI, Kingston police, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Canada Border Services Agency and the federal agency that tracks suspicious financial activities.

The effort included a small RCMP surveillance plane, whose circling over Kingston had puzzled, and sometimes annoyed, residents of the normally sedate city on the shore of Lake Ontario for weeks. The RCMP said the aerial support helped police keep tabs on certain addresses.

The arrest also stoked fresh fears at the time about ISIL sympathizers in Canada. Two Canadian Armed Forces members were killed in separate attacks in 2014.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2020.

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