Haleema Mustafa, 22, from Markham, has been charged with “participation in activities of a terrorist group and leaving Canada to participate in activities of a terrorist group,” the RCMP said in a press release.
Mustafa appeared in court on Wednesday and was remanded in custody until Aug. 31.
The RCMP believe Mustafa travelled with her husband, Ikar Mao, 22, to Turkey in June 2019. Mao, from Guelph, Ontario, was arrested and charged by the RCMP on Dec. 6, 2019, for an alleged attempt to join the ISIS terrorist group during the trip. Both are charged with the same offences.
According to the “law enforcement issues” section of the federal government’s website, while in Turkey the couple were detained by Turkish authorities near the Turkey-Syria border for suspected terrorism-related activity and were charged for being a part of ISIS. They were held in custody until their case was heard before the Turkish courts. Both were released without charge and returned to Canada in mid-October 2019.
The RCMP says these “extremist travellers” are a “significant concern.”
“Canadian Extremist Travellers (CETs) … continue to present a significant concern to law enforcement and intelligence services, having travelled abroad to engage in terrorism-related activities,” said Superintendent Christopher deGale, the Officer in Charge of the RCMP O Division’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.
“While the RCMP and partner agencies coordinate efforts to identify and prevent individuals from departing Canada for this purpose, we also assess and respond to the potential threats that these extremist-minded individuals pose domestically and investigate them accordingly.”
As of April 29, 2019, there are 190 CETs remaining in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and North and East Africa, according to Public Safety Canada, noting they travelled there to support and facilitate extremist activities, and also participate in terrorist acts.
“Should Canadian extremist travellers return home, their experiences abroad and network of like-minded individuals could pose a security threat to Canada,” Public Safety Canada’s website reads.