House arrest handed to Manitoba teen who wanted to join ISIS

A Manitoba judge has decided against more jail time for a teen who planned to fight for ISIS overseas.

Teen said he was struggling with his identity and didn't think about the consequences of his actions

A Manitoba teenager who used social media to support ISIS has been sentenced to house arrest. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

A Manitoba judge has decided against more jail time for a teen who planned to fight for ISIS overseas.

The teen was sentenced in a Brandon courtroom on Monday to time served and six months of house arrest followed by two years of probation. He is also required to wear a GPS tracker for those 2½ years.

Prosecutors had asked that the youth be sentenced to the 14 months of time served followed by seven months of house arrest and the probation order.

The teen, who can't be identified because he was 16 at the time of the offences, has been in custody since his arrest in November 2015.

The teen was originally to be sentenced in November 2016, but lawyers postponed it at the last minute.

A Manitoba judge has decided against more jail time for a Brandon teen who planned to fight for ISIS overseas. 0:56

Plans didn't fit

Justice John Combs told court Monday that the teen's plans to head overseas had little connection with reality, as they involved the transportation of "significant equipment," but the teen lacked access to a vehicle or even a driver's licence.

The judge also said the plans didn't fit the teen's behaviour.

"This was a boy who cut short a cadet trip because he was homesick," Combs said.

During a hearing in November 2016, Crown attorney Ian Mahon told court that RCMP traced a number of Twitter accounts to the teen. Several had already been deactivated. Many tweets were posted between March 14 and July 23, 2015.

Investigators found Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) propaganda and communication with someone who identified as an ISIS fighter on the teen's computer, the judge was told.

Internet searches for ISIS, including for its flags, videos and weapons, and child pornography were also found, the Crown said. The youth received probation for possession of child pornography. 

He was charged in November 2015 with counselling the commission of an indictable offence at the direction of, or in association with, a terrorist group. He entered a guilty plea on Sept. 12, 2016, in a Winnipeg youth division provincial court. 

The youth was to be released Monday to live with his grandparents in Brandon after being outfitted with a GPS tracking device by the RCMP. 

Teen planned to fight for ISIS 

He admitted in an interview that he planned to fight for ISIS overseas, the Crown said, adding he told investigators if he was unable to, he would "strike from within" and target government buildings, monuments, infrastructure and government employees on Canadian soil.

Mahon described the interview as chilling.

The boy offered an apology in court in November. 

"I wanted to say that I regret what I have done," he said. "I'd like to apologize to my family for the stress that I've caused them … also to the Crown for using their resources [and] also for causing a scare in the community, too."

He said he was struggling with his identity at the time and didn't think about the consequences of his action.

He said he would no longer follow Islam.

The boy also addressed court Monday, first apologizing for his actions and then expressing concern about the cost of the therapy and counselling he was ordered to take, saying they would be a burden on his family.

Combs said the costs likely would be covered by probation services.

With files from Riley Laychuk