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Anonymous tip led RCMP to doorstep of Montreal couple on trial on terror charges

Last Updated Sep 13, 2017 at 12:40 pm PST

MONTREAL – An anonymous tip led the RCMP national security team to the doorstep of a young Montreal couple now on trial on terrorism-related charges, a jury heard Wednesday.

The investigator who led the case was the first witness to take the stand at the trial of El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djermane.

They each face four charges: attempting to leave Canada to commit a terror act abroad; possession of an explosive substance; facilitating a terrorist act; and committing an act under the direction or for the profit of a terrorist organization.

Jamali, 20, and Djermane, 21, pleaded not guilty in front of the 12 jurors who will hear their estimated 10-week trial.

Federal prosecutor Lyne Decarie summed up the Crown’s case in her opening statement.

“The Islamic State, a young adult couple who want to leave Canada to join this terrorist group and the discovery of a recipe to make a bomb with some of the necessary ingredients,” Decarie said. “In one sentence, that is what our case is about.”

Decarie has previously named 31 police, expert and civilian witnesses her team intends to call.

Investigator Kevin Rouleau was the first, testifying that on April 10, 2015, his office received an anonymous tip about someone worried about Djermane and Jamali, who’d reportedly posted a Daesh flag on his Facebook page.

Rouleau testified he had separate meetings that evening with the complainant and with Djermane.

He told Djermane that authorities were investigating students from a Montreal junior college she and Jamali attended and which several students had left to fight in Syria.

Rouleau said he and a partner asked her about marriage and religion and found Djermane hospitable and at ease with their presence.

In her opening remarks, Decarie called that day a key date that would culminate with their arrests four days later. There were several searches and seizures conducted at the condo they shared as well as at the home of Jamali’s parents.

Decarie said police will testify about what they found: a receipt for passports, a new suitcase with new, still tagged clothes, a plane ticket with a planned May departure date, and various other documents.

“In a binder found on the nightstand in the bedroom of the condo, (an officer) found, on two pages, a recipe about how to make a bomb, written by hand by Mr. Jamali,” Decarie said.

“This recipe, the evidence will show, was word for word a recipe published by al-Qaida (in one of their magazines).”

RCMP agents also found a bag with some of the items necessary to make a bomb, allegedly purchased from a dollar store. Officers returned a few days later with an explosives expert and found other ingredients — Christmas lights and sandpaper — as well as a list allegedly written by Djermane.

The pair’s cellphones as well as three computers and a tablet were seized and analyzed.

Experts dug through the couple’s Facebook pages, flagging pertinent chats, messages and posted links.

Decarie said the last witness will be an expert on Syria, Islamic State and its ideology.

That expert will also discuss a propaganda video starring a Canadian named John Maguire, who urged Muslims to launch attacks against Canadians.

The prosecutor told jurors that in the video, Maguire urges Muslims to make choices: pack a bag, buy a plane ticket and join Islamic State abroad or prepare explosives, sharpen knives and perpetrate a local attack.

“The Crown intends to demonstrate that El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djermane responded to this call,” Decarie said.

— Follow @sidhartha_b on Twitter.