Montreal couple had bomb-making materials, planned to fight with ISIS, court hears

A Montreal couple on trial for terrorism-related charges was found with bomb-making materials and preparing to go to Syria to fight with ISIS at the time they were arrested, a Quebec Crown prosecutor said Wednesday.

Sabrine Djermane, 21, and El Mahdi Jamali, 20, face terrorism-related charges

Sabrine Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali, shown here in a courtroom sketch during jury selection, are on trial for terrorism-related offences. (Radio-Canada)

A Montreal couple on trial for terrorism-related charges was found with bomb-making materials and preparing to go to Syria to fight with ISIS at the time they were arrested, a Quebec prosecutor told the court Wednesday.

Lyne Décarie outlined the Crown's case against Sabrine Djermane, 21, and El Mahdi Jamali, 20, in her opening statement to the jury in Quebec Superior Court. 

When the couple was arrested in April 2015, investigators found jihadist propaganda on mobile devices, passport applications, new luggage packed with new clothes and a handwritten recipe for making a bomb, Décarie said.

They also found some of the materials necessary for making the bomb, she said.

Décarie said Djermane and Jamali had watched a propaganda video from a Canadian ISIS fighter named John Maguire.

In the video, Maguire urges Canadian Muslims to pack their bags, prepare their explosive devices, purchase their airline tickets and sharpen their knives, she said. 

The prosecution will show the couple answered this call, she said.

Case like a jigsaw puzzle, prosecutor says

Djermane and Jamali were 19 and 18, respectively, at the time they were arrested, living together and attending Collège de Maisonneuve.

Décarie told jurors the case was like a jigsaw puzzle and that, as pieces were filled in, the case would be revealed.

Sabrine Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali were 19 and 18 years old respectively when they were charged in April 2015. (Radio-Canada)

During the trial, she said they will hear from police officers, computer experts, an explosives expert and an expert on jihad.

They will also hear from the couple's landlord, a friend of Djermane's and one of her professors.

Djermane's sister tipped off police

The first witness is Kevin Rouleau, an RCMP national security investigator. He met with Djermane after receiving a call from her older sister, who tipped off police with concerns about Djermane after the accused moved out of the family home.

Rouleau testified that the woman said she was worried about a video on her sister's Facebook page, and she had concerns that Sabrine Djermane may have been planning to travel to Syria to join ISIS.

Based on that, Rouleau contacted both Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali and had separate conversations with them at the condo where they lived.

Rouleau said he discussed ISIS, their studies, marriage and other subjects with each of them.

He said he found Djermane comfortable and co-operative.

Trial expected to last 10 weeks

In all, the Crown is expected to call 31 witnesses. The trial is expected to last 10 weeks. 

The accused are each facing four charges:

  • Attempting to leave Canada to commit a terrorist act.
  • Possession of an explosive substance.
  • Facilitating a terrorist act.
  • Committing an act under the direction of, or for the profit of a terrorist organization.

During jury selection on Tuesday, Superior Court Justice Marc David asked each potential juror if the fact that Djermane and Jamali are Muslims would affect their impartiality.

Six men and eight women were selected.


Steve Rukavina


Steve Rukavina has been with CBC News in Montreal since 2002. In 2019, he won a RTDNA award for continuing coverage of sexual misconduct allegations at Concordia University. He's also a co-creator of the podcast, Montreapolis. Before working in Montreal he worked as a reporter for CBC in Regina and Saskatoon. You can reach him at