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Guelph, Ont., man pleads guilty to leaving Canada to join ISIS

Ikar Mao has pleaded guilty to leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group. The Crown expects to stay the charges against his wife, Haleema Mustafa, later this week.

Crown drops 2nd count against Ikar Mao, charges against wife expected to be stayed

Ikar Mao of Guelph, Ont., has pleaded guilty to leaving Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group. (Ikar Mao/Couchsurfing.com)

A Guelph, Ont., man has pleaded guilty to leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group.

Federal prosecutors withdrew a second charge against Ikar Mao, and say they expect to stay all charges against his wife, Haleema Mustafa.

In an agreed statement of facts filed with the court, Mao admitted to travelling to Turkey for the express purpose of crossing the border into Syria and making himself available to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

When Mao returned to Canada on Oct. 19, 2019, some of his personal items were seized, including numerous electronic devices. A search of the items demonstrated Mao travelled to Turkey in order to enter Syria and then to ISIS-controlled territory, according to statement of facts.

A news release from The Public Prosecution Service of Canada says the Crown expects to stay the charges against Mustafa later this week, when Mao is sentenced.

The release says "the staying of the charges against Ms. Mustafa is appropriate in the circumstances given her role, the evidence against her and the public safety protection assessment."

The release also says the RCMP was consulted, and Mustafa was in custody for approximately eight months pending resolution.

Haleema Mustafa was facing two terror-related charges with her husband, Ikar Mao, after being arrested in August of 2020. Federal prosecutors are expected to drop the charges later this week. (CBC)

Mao and Mustafa, who is from Markham, Ont., were detained in Turkey in July 2019 after family members alerted officials they feared they might be planning to cross the border into Syria to join ISIS. They were released and returned to Canada in October the same year.

Mao was arrested and charged in November. He was denied bail in December 2019. 

Nine months later, Mustafa was also arrested in Pickering, Ont., and charged with the same offences. She was granted bail with conditions in March of this year. 

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