RCMP arrest 3 Canadian women after repatriation from camps in northeastern Syria | CBC News


The RCMP have arrested three Canadian women in Montreal after the government repatriated them from a northeastern Syria camp for ISIS suspects and their families. 

The RCMP said it’s seeking a terrorism peace bond against Ammara Amjad, Dure Ahmed and a 38-year-old third woman the police force hasn’t named. Amjad and Ahmed appeared in an Ontario court by videoconference on Thursday for a bail hearing, but it was adjourned. The third woman appeared virtually at an Alberta court for a bail hearing.

An RCMP news release said the two Ontario women are in custody and are expected to appear in court again on April 11.

Their lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, said the peace bond would mean the women would have to live under certain conditions for up to a year. 

“What it demonstrates is that Canada has the ability to repatriate these women and children and then deal with any concerns that they have through the Canadian justice system, which is the way it should be,” said Greenspon.

In an interview with CBC News Network on Friday, Greenspon said he’s been advised that the bail hearing for the two women in Ontario did not take place and has been postponed until next Tuesday.

The RCMP said in a separate statement Friday that the third woman was released from custody and is now subject to bail conditions pending hearing of a peace bond application. 

“As the RCMP criminal investigation remains ongoing, there will be no further comment on this matter at this time,” the statement said.

Yoav Niv, a criminal defence lawyer representing the third woman, said her name is protected by a publication ban.

“These cases can be complex given the national security context,” Niv said in an email statement.

“We secured a publication ban relative to judicial interim release, requested disclosure, and hope to receive it shortly after our next court date on May 12.”

The women were part of a group of four Canadian women and 10 children the federal government repatriated to Canada on Thursday from al-Roj, the Kurdish-run camp where many of them were detained for years.

A group of men and women meet in a room with a brick wall as a backdrop.
Canadian officials, left, including Sébastien Beaulieu, an executive at Global Affairs Canada and a former ambassador, are seen meeting with officials from the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and the Women’s Protection Unit (YPU), right, on Wednesday. The meeting was in Qamishli, northeast Syria. (AANES)

The government said it took “extraordinary steps to repatriate” the 14, who were part of a Federal Court case against Ottawa.

“Amidst reports of deteriorating conditions in the camps in northeastern Syria, we have been particularly concerned about the health and well-being of Canadian children,” said Global Affairs Canada in a media statement.

Greenspon said he’s been working for more than three years to get the families to Canada and it took an application he filed in Federal Court for the government to agree to bring them home. 

“But their families are overjoyed and I am very happy for them,” he said. 

The federal government struck a deal in January to repatriate six Canadian women and 13 children from the Kurdish-run camps. In return, the women and children dropped their Federal Court case against the government a day before a judge was set to render a ruling. 

Global Affairs Canada said Canadian law enforcement will lay charges against individuals being repatriated to Canada if there’s “sufficient evidence” of criminal wrongdoing.

“We reiterate that it is a serious criminal offence for anyone to leave Canada to knowingly support a terrorist group and those who engage in these activities will face the full force of Canadian law,” wrote Global Affairs Canada.

Five Canadians didn’t show up for flight

The number of Canadians repatriated by the government is smaller than anticipated. Ottawa promised to bring 19 Canadians to Canada, but five didn’t show up at the pickup point for the repatriation flight, Greenspon said. 

Efforts were made to locate the five Canadians, but officials weren’t able to find them before the plane took off, said Greenspon. He said he’s confident the government “will continue to do their best to bring them home.”

Global Affairs Canada said that as long as “conditions allow, we will continue this work” to repatriate Canadians.

WATCH | Canadian women, children leaving ISIS camp:

Canadian women, children leaving ISIS camp in Syria, lawyer says

The lawyer for multiple Canadian women and their children long-detained in a Syrian camp for suspected ISIS members and their families told CBC News a deal has been reached to bring them home, and some may be on their way.

U.S. military involved in efforts 

The government also thanked AANES and the United States for its help in repatriating the families.

Resolving the “humanitarian and security challenges” are a key U.S. priority, according to U.S. State Department principle deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel.

United States Central Command also released a statement saying their efforts are part of an “ongoing international effort to rehabilitate, repatriate and reintegrate more than 50,000 individuals from more than 60 countries who remain in these camps in northeast Syria.”

“These camps represent not only a flash point of human suffering but also an enduring security risk as the more than 30,000 children housed in them are in danger of ISIS indoctrination on a daily basis,” wrote CENTCOM’s commander, Gen. Michael Kurilla, in a media statement.

The AANES has urged countries around the world for years to repatriate their citizens due to a humanitarian crisis in the camps and the potential for increased extremism.

Alexandra Bains, director of Families Against Violent Extremism, said her organization has set up the newly repatriated Canadians and their children with psychosocial support organizations across the country.

She said she’s been in direct contact with Canadian women held in northeastern Syria and is aware of 19 Canadian women and six men who remain there.

“Every single person who is there is ill,” said Bains. “They’re suffering trauma, they’re suffering various kinds of diseases. People have cholera, people have tuberculosis.

“There’s a large death rate for children in the camp. There are tent fires. Some of the children have been injured.”

She said one 9-year-old Canadian boy in the camp is severely autistic.

Quebec mother, children not on flight

Greenspon said he also tried to get a Quebec mother and her six children who were not part of his deal with the government onto the plane. 

The government gave the Quebec mother an ultimatum: Send her children to Canada without her, or not at all, he said. Greenspon said Canadian officials failed to finish her security assessment in time for the flight, he said. 

“It’s ridiculous,” said Greenspon, adding that officials have had since November to complete that assessment.

six children holding a sign
The six children of a Quebec women detained in a northeastern Syrian camp for families of those with suspected ISIS ties holding a sign thanking their mother’s lawyer Lawrence Greenspon for his efforts to get them to Canada. (Submitted by Lawrence Greenspon)

Four foreign mothers with Canadian children were also given the same difficult option of sending their children without them, said one of their lawyers. 

“The offer here is to separate already extremely traumatized children from the sole provider that they’ve had,” said Toronto immigration lawyer Asiya Hirji, who represents two of the women.

WATCH | Captured foreign members of ISIS in Syria face uncertain future:

Canada will do ‘everything necessary’ to keep Canadians safe: Trudeau

Asked about Canada refusing to allow a Quebec mother and her children to return from Syria, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government takes its responsibility to keep Canadians safe seriously.


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