A man suspected of trying to join ISIS while in Turkey was arrested on a terrorism peace bond after returning to Guelph, according to Global News.
22-year-old Ikar Mao was apprehended in Turkey while travelling with his wife along the country’s border with Syria.
After returning to Canada, Mao was arrested in Guelph earlier this month under the bond. A terror bond imposes conditions on a suspect without a formal criminal charge and is usually used when there isn’t enough evidence for a formal charge.
Court documents refer to a “fear of terrorism offence” in relation to the bond. Mao is currently the only person in Canada who is being held under the measure.
The effectiveness of the measure has been questioned in the past. In 2016, a peace bond failed to prevent ISIS terrorist Aaron Driver from attempting to carry out an attack.
Last year, a couple were released on a similar bond after being acquitted after being accused of attempting to join ISIS and committing a terror attack. In 2017 an Ottawa man was also required to obey a 12-month a terror peace bond after discussing plans to join ISIS.
As part of the conditions of his release, Mao has to wear a GPS locator, cannot communicate “with anyone who is involved in or supports terrorist activity as defined in the Criminal Code,” has to surrender his passport, not leave Ontario and cannot “possess any object with the logo of a listed terrorist entity,” among other conditions. Mao was also ordered to pay a total of $20,000.
According to a profile on the website couchsurfing.com, Mao indicated that the couple wanted to move to Turkey while they were travelling there.
Government figures claim there are an estimated 60 suspected terrorists who have returned to Canada after fighting for extremist causes from abroad.
True North reached out to the RCMP on whether they believe Mao poses a threat to society or those around him and whether he was one of the 60 included in the public safety figure.
“As this is an ongoing investigation we are not in a position to answer your questions. We can tell you that the RCMP wants to reassure the citizens of the Greater Toronto Area and all Canadians, that our primary focus is the safety and protection of the public at all times; we do so with the assistance and support of our local partners,” said RCMP Cpl. Caroline Duval.
In 2018, Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale stated that in the last few years only four charges were laid against suspected terrorists, while another two cases were still before the courts.
“The challenge for security and police agencies is to collect evidence that will be usable in a court of law. The issue is making sure the criminal code is assiduously applied in every case,” said Goodale.
Recently it was revealed that another Ontario resident, Pamir Hakimzadah was freed after only serving six months in prison for also travelling to Turkey to join ISIS. The former Ryerson student was released on several conditions in May despite the fact that he had been denied bail for being an “undue risk to society.”