Toronto

Toronto man sentenced to 4 years for trying to get into Syria to join ISIL

Pamir Hakimzadah, who tried to join Islamic State militants in Syria, has been sentenced to four years and one month behind bars.

Pamir Hakimzadah, 29, will spend six more months behind bars

After receiving credit for time already spent in custody, Hakimzadah will spend six more months behind bars. (Facebook)

A Toronto man who tried to join Islamic State militants in Syria has been sentenced to just over four years in prison.

Pamir Hakimzadah, 29, pleaded guilty in early February to one count of leaving Canada to participate in a terrorist activity.

Justice John McMahon says Hakimzadah's guilty plea, his age, the fact he didn't end up joining Islamic militants and his commitment to participating in a deradicalization program were all factors in the man's favour.

The Crown had sought a six-year sentence while the defence asked for a sentence of three years and seven months.

McMahon settled on a sentence of four years and one month for Hakimzadah. After receiving credit for time already spent in custody, Hakimzadah will spend six more months behind bars.

Left Canada in 2014

In September 2014, Hakimzadah told his family he wanted to go to Montreal to hang out with friends for a few weeks, according to an agreed statement of facts.

That was a ruse, court heard.

Before leaving home, Hakimzadah had displayed increasing radical Islamic views, began reading about the Islamic State militants and watching their propaganda videos, court heard.

On Oct. 22, 2014, Hakimzadah boarded a KLM flight to Amsterdam where he connected on another flight to Istanbul. He arrived in Turkey the following day.

He was travelling around the city alone, court heard, and four days later a taxi driver thought he was trying to join ISIL and turned him over to police. He was banned from Turkey for a year and in mid-November authorities sent him back to Canada.

Hakimzadah later admitted to a family member that he had travelled to Turkey in an effort to join the terrorist group. He was turned over to police by a family member in 2016, court heard.

Committed to a deradicalization program, defence said

The defence had argued for a shorter sentence for Hakimzadah, saying he was committed to a deradicalization program and psychiatric counselling.

Hakimzadah's lawyer told the court he had lined up two imams in Vaughan, Ont., who have been involved with deradicalizing members of the "Toronto 18" group who planned a series of terrorist attacks in southern Ontario in 2006.

Crown attorney Christopher Walsh had been dubious about the plan.

"Without any insight into how he was radicalized, there's no basis that he can be deradicalized," Walsh had argued.

At his sentencing hearing earlier this week, Hakimzadah told court he took full responsibility for his actions.

"I want you to know I will absolutely abide by any sentence that court imposes on me," he said. "I look forward to being reunited with my family."

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