British Columbia

Crown to seek 'terrorism peace bond' against B.C. woman who married ISIS fighter

A B.C. provincial court judge will hold a bail hearing Thursday morning for a B.C. woman who returned to Canada this week after years spent in Syria as the bride of an ISIS fighter.

Kimberly Polman has been detained for 3 years at al-Roj Syrian detention camp for families of ISIS fighters

Kimberly Polman was arrested Wednesday after returning to Canada from a detention camp for families of ISIS fighters. The Crown is seeking a peace bond against her. (The Return: Life After ISIS)

A provincial court judge will hold a bail hearing Thursday morning for a B.C. woman who returned to Canada this week after years spent in Syria as the bride of an ISIS fighter.

Kimberly Polman made a brief appearance in Chilliwack provincial court, about 100 kilometres east of Vancouver, late Wednesday afternoon — hours after police arrested her on her arrival in Montreal under a section of the Criminal Code designed to keep people from participating in terrorism-related activities.

Polman has been detained for the past three years at al-Roj Syrian detention camp for families of ISIS fighters. She travelled to Syria in 2015 after marrying an ISIS fighter online and has said she was in a "terrible place" at the time. 

She told the judge she was "extremely ill" and had expected to be taken directly into medical care on her return to Canada. Instead, she was remanded to a jail cell for the night.

"It was expected that I would go to hospital this evening," she told the judge.

"I've been travelling now on red eye flights for three days."

Met ISIS husband on Twitter

Federal Crown prosecutor Ryan Carrier said the Crown will be applying for what the judge referred to as a "terrorism peace bond" against Polman in a hearing that is expected to take a number of weeks.

In the meantime, he said the Crown believes Polman can be released on a strict set of conditions meant to ensure the safety of the public while those proceedings play themselves out.

Seven young children, some holding hands, are seen walking along a paved road as women watch in the distance.
There are about 35 Canadian women and children in the Al Roj detention camp, which is close to both the Turkish and Iraqi borders. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)

"But ... it can't be that Ms. Polman just says, 'Well I'll do whatever it takes to get out,'" Carrier said.

The application for the peace bond was sworn on Oct. 20 as part of a voluminous package of documents that the judge unsealed Wednesday so that Polman could be given a copy of the case against her.

The charge itself claims police have "reasonable grounds to fear" that Polman "may commit a terrorism offence, to wit: participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, an activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of a terrorist group to carry out a terrorist activity."

Polman was one of two Canadian women repatriated from the ISIS family detention camp this week. The RCMP arrested the other woman, Oumaima Chouay, on terrorism charges Tuesday night at the Montréal-Trudeau airport upon her arrival in Canada.

Polman has spoken extensively about her reasons for going to Syria and her experience with ISIS since arriving at the detention camp in 2019.

'My passport was being held'

In an interview with Anne Speckard, director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism, Polman said she met her ISIS husband through Twitter and married him online.

She told Speckard she was known to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service before leaving because of her online chats with extremists.

Polman and other ISIS brides are featured in the documentary, The Return: Life After ISIS by Alba Sotorra Clua and her Barcelona-based production company Alba Sotorra Cinema Productions. (The Return: Life After ISIS)

"My passport was being held," she claimed.

"If I could redo it, I would run to CSIS and [tell] them what he was doing. But the problem was I had been taught these are non-Muslims."

'The bodies just kept coming'

Polman worked in an underground intensive care unit and told a documentary filmmaker that: "The bodies just kept coming in. Some were dead on arrival, some were almost dead ... They would try to [squeegee] the blood out because it kept rising as people were bleeding out ... you are wading through it, it's like a river running. You don't imagine that."

Polman claimed her husband turned on her and that she was thrown into prison for asking about how to leave. After being released from prison she fled with a mass of ISIS families trying to escape Syria.

She spoke to Speckard about having been subject to torture and rape. She also has lupus and hepatitis; Polman and her family members have been begging the Canadian government to repatriate her for some time.

Polman told Speckard that she wanted to "come home" and spoke about her frustration with the delay that left her living in a detention camp for years, worrying that she might not survive.

"It's shocking to me to be in detention this long and not see anyone, how dangerous that can be," she said.

"If you leave people stateless, you create the problem you are trying to solve."

Polman told the judge she expected to be put on some form of conditions in order to secure her release.


Jason Proctor


Jason Proctor is a reporter in British Columbia for CBC News and has covered the B.C. courts and the justice system extensively.