Montreal woman arrested for joining terror group years after disappearing to Syria

MONTREAL – The RCMP has announced the arrest of a 27-year-old woman from Montreal on terrorism charges years after she disappeared to Syria.

In a press statement on Wednesday, the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team announced that Oumaima Chouay had been arrested at Montreal airport after returning from Syria.

Chouay has been on the national security radar since November 2014, when she disappeared from her Montreal home and reportedly fled to Syria to join the terror group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS.

ISIS was one of the insurgent groups that fought against the government in the Syrian civil war. It later claimed a large tract of territory in Syria and Iraq and claimed to have established an Islamic caliphate.

Its terror tactics have been both media-savvy and heart-poundingly brutal, including slick videos of prisoners being beheaded, shot or burned alive and calling on Muslims from around the world to “emigrate” to the countries it controls.

Many young people, including a hundred or more from Canada, took the call, most traveling to Turkey and being smuggled across the Turkish-Syrian border.

Chouay is on trial on four charges, including participation in the activities of a terrorist group; providing property or services for terrorist purposes and conspiring to leave Canada to join a terrorist group.

The Star made contact with a man claiming to be Chouay’s husband in December 2015, who described the situation in Mosul, Iraq, where they were living at the time, and who was attacked by fighter jets from Canada and other countries.

“The situation with fighter jets is still the same, a few days ago they bombed a building with women (sic) and children,” he wrote using a Chouay Facebook Messenger account. “I don’t know what (sic) to talk to you. The truth will never be written in a public magazine.”

When the Star explained that the paper was trying to learn more about Canadians who had started lying in Syria and Iraq, he replied:

“It’s not about Canadian or anything. Any Muslim who understood his religion (sic) and who wants to live without any problem (sic) and criticism or whatever, come here.”

More to come.

Allan Woods is a Montreal-based staff reporter for the Star. He deals with global and national affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @WoodsAllan

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