A Montreal teenager has been charged with terrorism-related offences after robbing a convenience store to get money for a plane ride overseas to join a jihadist group.
The 15-year-old Montreal boy was arrested in October after a West Island dépanneur was held up by an assailant with a knife.
He pleaded guilty to armed robbery in November and is scheduled to be sentenced in January.
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The teen’s father turned him in to police after reportedly finding money inside his son’s bag.
Investigators soon discovered there was more to it, however. They called in the RCMP after suspecting the teen robbed the store to pay for a plane ticket — reportedly to join militants overseas.
About $2,200 was stolen from the dépanneur.
Teen tried to contact Martin Couture-Rouleau
Neither the organization he was planning to join nor the country he had planned to travel to was clear, but police said they found jihadist propaganda on his computer.
The teen told investigators he was living in sin because he is in Canada and not a Muslim country.
"The RCMP is relentless in its pursuit of those who would seek to participate in terrorist activity. We are determined to take action to protect Canadians and to keep our communities safe and resilient," James Malizia, assistant commissioner and officer in charge of RCMP Federal Policing Operations, said in a statement.
The teen appeared in court Wednesday on the charges of:
- Commission of an offence for a terrorist group.
- Leaving Canada to participate in activity of a terrorist group.
For an adult, the first charge normally carries a life sentence upon conviction.
However, the teen likely faces a maximum of three years for that charge because he is a minor.
The RCMP would not divulge specific details because of the suspect’s age, but a spokesperson confirmed the boy tried to get into contact with Martin Couture-Rouleau — the man responsible for the attack of two Canadian soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., on Oct. 20. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed.
The teen is in a youth detention centre. He will undergo a psychological assessment and is expected back in youth court Jan. 28.
Federal prosecutors will also be present at his January appearance to take the next step on the terrorism charges.