Montreal

RCMP terror investigation not over yet, Crown reveals at Ismael Habib trial

Project Solaire - an RCMP operation investigating young Quebec men who travelled to Syria - continues, said prosecutor Lyne Décarie as the Crown wrapped its case in Ismael Habib's trial on a terror-related crime.

Limits to what police can say about Project Solaire, says prosecutor as Crown wraps its case in terror trial

Ismael Habib, 29, is accused of trying to leave the country to commit terrorist acts. (Facebook)

Project Solaire — an RCMP operation investigating young Quebec men who travelled to Syria — is ongoing, Crown prosecutor Lyne Décarie revealed as the Crown's final witness was being cross-examined at the trial of Ismael Habib Friday.

Habib, who is charged with attempting to leave Canada to commit acts of terrorism and trying to obtain a passport by providing false information, is the first to be charged as a result of the investigation.

Habib was arrested in Gatineau, Que., in February 2016 on unrelated charges. After being denied bail on those charges, he was charged with the terrorism-related offence.

Crown mum on scope of operation

It's unclear who else is being targeted by the operation.

Décarie acknowledged the investigation continues during the cross-examination of Crown witness James Parent, an RCMP officer tasked with creating and orchestrating 22 undercover scenarios in Habib's investigation.

When defence lawyer Charles Montpetit asked about the scope of Project Solaire, Décarie intervened, saying there are limits to what the witness could say because the investigation is still underway.

Watched since October 2014

In response to another question, Parent clarified that Habib had been under police surveillance since Oct. 27, 2014.

He testified that police began investigating him in 2013. The court heard earlier in the trial that he had been put on an RCMP watch list around that time.

Habib travelled overseas in late 2013. In a Mr. Big-style sting, he confessed he spent three months in Syria during that trip, and said he wanted to go back to Syria to fight with ISIS.

Quebec Judge Serge Délisle will rule on whether that evidence is admissible in early 2017. The Crown has now wrapped its case, and the trial has been adjourned until Jan. 23, 2017.

Betrayed by mentor figure

Parent's cross-examination shed some light on a civilian agent who played an integral role in the RCMP investigation.

The court heard that "Lyes" is not a code name, but the real name of a leader in Montreal's Muslim community.

Parent said that Lyes, a man in his 40s who ran a store on Jean Talon Street, knew Habib before he became affiliated with the RCMP, and his store was a hub for young Muslims. Parent described Lyes as a mentor figure for Habib.

He said Lyes worried Habib was a sleeper agent who had only returned from overseas to commit a terrorist act and started working with the RCMP to inform them of Habib's doings.

The defence questioned Lyes's motives, because he was only being paid by the RCMP when he provided information.

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