Montreal teen pleads not guilty to terror charges
A 15-year-old Montreal teenager appeared in court Wednesday on charges of committing robbery to benefit a terrorist group, making him the first youth charged under Canada's new anti-terror laws.
RCMP are accusing the teen of robbing a convenience store for about $2,000 in October, with the intent to finance a trip overseas to join a terrorist group in the Middle East.
He is charged with committing a robbery to fund terror activities and trying to leave the country to commit a criminal act abroad. He allegedly wore a ski mask and brandished a large knife during the robbery, CTV Montreal’s Rob Lurie reported.
The boy pleaded not guilty in a Quebec courtroom on Wednesday. He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
The suspect cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and is expected to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. His next court date is scheduled in January.
Officials have not named the terrorist group he allegedly intended to join.
Police said the boy's father turned him in after he began to suspect his son had become radicalized. The boy allegedly hid the money he stole in the backyard of the family home, where it was discovered by his father. The father then contacted authorities and told them his son was behaving strangely, police said.
Investigators say they found jihadi-related material and videos on the boy's computer after he was taken into custody.
Quebec's Minister of Immigration, Diversity and Inclusiveness said the incident shows people can become radicalized anywhere in the country.
"We realize that we've lost our innocence," Kathleen Weil told reporters. "Quebec is just as vulnerable as any other place."
Police say the boy told them during his interrogation that he wanted to leave Canada because he thought it was "sinful" to live in a country not governed by Islamic Shariah law.
A spokesperson from the Minister of Public Safety's office said the federal government is determined to strengthen its safeguards and policing procedures against terrorist threats.
"This is a reminder that terrorism remains a very real threat to Canadians," ministry spokesperson Jean-Christophe de Le Rue said.
Police are asking anyone with information about terrorism-related activities to contact the National Security Information Network at 1-800-420-5805 or their local police.