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Opinion

FUREY: For once, a tough on terror sentence

The Canadian justice system has sent a firm message that joining ISIS is a serious crime that will not be taken lightly.

It’s not often one gets to write this, but here goes: The Canadian justice system has sent a firm message that joining ISIS is a serious crime that will not be taken lightly.

On Thursday, Rehab Dughmosh was sentenced to 7 years in prison after being found guilty of four terrorism-related offences. These relate to when the 34-year-old mother attacked employees at a Toronto Canadian Tire location in June 2017 and when, a year earlier, she attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

It’s interesting to note that the court heard that Dughmosh suffered from a serious mental illness, perhaps schizophrenia. However, that didn’t at all work as a full excuse.

As a CBC story explains it: “Dughmosh refused treatment while in custody until a little more than a year ago, the court heard. She was in partial remission a few months later and has been compliant and improving since.

“Yet she still endorses pro-Islamic State sentiments, although less intense and without violent ideation, the court heard.”

The judge in her ruling said that the seven years was a reduced sentenced that factored in the mental illness.

It’s been frustrating to know that for the past several years, dozens of Canadians who have gone abroad to wage jihad or attempt to join a terror group have been able to come home and walk about freely without consequence. Even though these are serious Criminal Code violations.

The excuse usually given is that it’s hard to prosecute these people because law enforcement in countries like Syria and Iraq is barely existent and their record-keeping is poor, meaning Canadian prosecutors wouldn’t have much to work with when it comes to the evidence proving those charged actually were abroad and getting up to no good.

Thanks to this defeatist attitude, returning terrorists have surely become emboldened. They must be taking note of this stuff, paying attention to the lack of resolve on the part of the current federal government. One such young man even freely talked about his exploits on a podcast with The New York Times, that’s how untouchable he felt. It’s like they’re laughing at us.

Let’s hope a chill comes over them as they read about Dughmosh. Because here’s the thing: The crimes of the dozens of returnees are much more serious than hers.

Dughmosh did two things: She tried and failed to join up with ISIS in Syria. And she swung a golf club around a Canadian Tire, without seriously wounding anyone. Yet she was still sentenced to seven years. And that’s with a reduced sentence because of her unspecified mental illness.

That should hopefully tell us that if and when we get someone in our courts who actually did make it over there and did engage in ISIS atrocities and does not have a serious mental illness as a partial excuse that they’ll be looking at some very serious time behind bars.

Until now, we’ve been sending a message to people that you can sign up to join ISIS with impunity. It became a trend, a worrisome one, as hundreds of Canadians over the last few years chose to do just that and left the country to join up with terror groups.

The Dughmosh case is hopefully not a one-off, but the start of a much better trend – one that sends the signal that no terror activity will be treated lightly.

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