Quebecer Ismael Habib on trial for terrorism-related charge

Ismael Habib, 29, is charged with attempting to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group.

29-year-old accused of attempting to leave Canada to participate in activities of a terrorist group

Ismael Habib is on trial at the Montreal courthouse. (Laurie Foster-MacLeod)

New anti-terrorism legislation is being put to the test in a trial that got underway Monday at the Montreal courthouse.

Ismael Habib, 29, is the first adult in Quebec being tried under a section under the Anti-Terrorism Act that was enacted under the Conservative government in 2013. 

Habib is charged with attempting to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group.

Habib was initially arrested by Gatineau, Que., police in March and charged with criminal harassment, uttering threats and forging documents.

He was denied bail on those charges and was subsequently charged by the RCMP on the terrorism-related charge.

The trial, presided over by Quebec Court Judge Serge Délisle, is expected to last two weeks.

Habib, represented by lawyer Charles Montpetit, gave up his right to a preliminary inquiry in the interest of finishing his legal proceedings more quickly.

Alleged fake passports

The court heard Monday from Mélissa Ohnona, a Passport Canada employee who testified Habib tried to get a passport under a fake name in June 2014.

When questioned by Crown prosecutor Lyne Décarie, Ohnona said Habib was seeking an urgent passport to go to Frankfurt, Germany.

He had a peculiar appearance, she testified, with pale skin that appeared to have been darkened with bronzer.

He presented her with a birth certificate and a medical insurance card under the name "Sammy Mohammed Habib," she told the court.

Ohnona said she looked at the insurance card and realized the photo did not look like Habib.

"Suddenly, it hit me that it wasn't the man I had in front of me at the counter," she said.

When she ran his name in her databases, she discovered there were two men with the same last name and date of birth — Ismael Habib and Sammy Mohammed Habib.

His request for a passport was refused.

Watched ISIS propaganda, witness says

A key witness for the Crown, whose identity is under a publication ban, testified Habib was in possession of a fake passport.

The second witness, a woman Habib was involved with, said she witnessed Habib watching ISIS propaganda. She said he had a wife and children in Syria, who he wanted to join.