Canada police arrest Syria returnee on terrorism-related charges

Canadian police said on Wednesday they had arrested a woman on her return to Canada after 5 years in detention by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) for allegedly working for the Islamic State.

Oumaima Chouay, 27, was arrested at the Montreal-Trudeau airport Tuesday night and charged with four terrorism-related offences, including "participation in activity of terrorist group," the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Quebec said in a statement.

Chouay left Canada in 2014 and was suspected of participating in "terrorist activities" in the name of Islamic State before her arrest by the SDF in November 2017, police said.

A representative for Chouay could not immediately be found for comment.

She was one of two women returning from Syria. The other, Kimberly Polman, 50, arrived in Montreal Wednesday morning and was also subsequently arrested, her lawyer Lawrence Greenspon said.

Polman was not facing criminal charges, her lawyer said. The RCMP in British Columbia, where Polman is from, did not respond to multiple emails and phone calls seeking comment.

Canada's foreign ministry confirmed four Canadians - two children and two women - had been repatriated from northeast Syria, and thanked the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria for its cooperation and the United States for assisting in the operation.

The detained individuals were under an "extremely difficult security situation and adverse circumstances," the foreign ministry said, without naming the individuals due to privacy considerations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declined to directly comment on the matter on Wednesday, but said "traveling for the purpose of supporting terrorism" was a crime and anyone who traveled for such a purpose should face criminal charges.

"It is important that we make sure that people know you cannot get away with supporting terrorism in this country, regardless of the circumstances," he told reporters.


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