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RCMP arrests three women after they return to Canada from ISIS camps in Syria

Two Ontario women were arrested on terrorism allegations on Thursday after returning to Canada from camps in Syria for captured ISIS suspects.

Dure Ahmed and Ammara Amjad were arrested on terrorism peace bonds upon arriving at Montreal airport, the RCMP said in a statement.

They were then flown to Ontario and appeared by teleconference in a courtroom in Brampton, Ont., north of Toronto.

The case was put over until Tuesday.

A 38-year-old Alberta woman, Aimee Vasconez, was also arrested on a terrorism peace bond and released on bail, the RCMP said Friday.

The women were among four the Canadian government brought out of Syria on Wednesday, along with their children.

They do not face any criminal charges. Peace bonds impose a list of conditions on suspects that can include wearing an ankle bracelet and taking part in a de-radicalization program.

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Women caught in Syria during fight against ISIS returning to Canada

On Thursday, Global Affairs Canada said it had taken four Canadian women and 10 kids out of Syria and flown them home to Canada.

But the repatriation did not go as planned.

Six women were meant to return but two could not be found, said Lawrence Greenspon, the Ottawa lawyer representing the women’s families.

They did not show up at a designated meeting point, and the plane left without them, he said. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

The women are sisters-in-law from Edmonton. One of them has three children.

Toronto woman detained at camp for ISIS suspects in Syria.

Stewart Bell/Global News

The Canadians were taken prisoner by U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria in the years leading up to the defeat of ISIS in 2019.

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The federal government initially declined to help them, but officials agreed to bring them back after their families filed an appeal in the Federal Court.

“Around the world, like-minded countries are taking steps to repatriate their respective citizens from northeastern Syria,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement.

“Amidst reports of deteriorating conditions in the camps in northeastern Syria, we have been particularly concerned about the health and well-being of Canadian children.

“As long as conditions allow, we will continue this work.”

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While Ahmed, Amjad and Vasconez were arrested, the fourth woman brought out of Syria was not taken into custody. She is from Toronto and had married an ISIS fighter.

During the final days of ISIS in Syria, a woman captured by Kurdish forces identified herself to CNN as Dura Ahmed and said she was from Toronto.

She told CNN in 2019 she was a 28-year-old college student and had joined her husband in Syria in 2014, moving to the ISIS capital Raqqa.

The New York Times also interviewed a woman it named as “Dure Ahmed” from Toronto.

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Around that same time, the BBC interviewed a captured British ISIS fighter who said he was married to a Toronto woman named “Ammar Anjar.”

An Alberta woman, who was not named but whose age matches the Canadian arrested this week, told CNN she was a graphic designer who had come to Syria with her husband.

“He’s like, ‘it’s obligatory for you to come here. You have no choice, and as your husband I’m telling you to come here.’ And as a Muslim wife you have to obey, even though it was really hard for me to do it,” CNN quoted her saying.

A protest by women at the Al Hawl camp for ISIS detainees quickly turned violent.

Stewart Bell

Seven Canadian adults, all women, have now returned to Canada from camps in Syria for ISIS suspects.

Only one has been charged with terrorism offences to date. Five others were arrested on peace bonds.

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Canada has struggled to bring charges against so-called Canadian Extremist Travellers, with police citing the challenges of collecting evidence from overseas war zones.

National security agencies have instead relied on peace bonds, surveillance, the no-fly list and the refusal of passports.

“Where there is sufficient evidence, law enforcement and public safety agencies will independently take the necessary steps to keep our communities safe,” the GAC statement said.

“We reiterate that it is a serious criminal offence for anyone to leave Canada to knowingly support a terrorist group and those who engage in these activities will face the full force of Canadian law.”

Canadian diplomats and local authorities in northeast Syria at the handover of four Canadian women on April 5, 2023.


Photos released by the administration that controls Kurdish-majority northeast Syria showed its officials meeting three Canadian envoys on Wednesday.

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The Canadians were shown with representatives of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) and the YPJ Women’s Protection Units.

“During the meeting, the two sides discussed the political situation in Syria in general and northern and eastern Syria in particular, and the humanitarian, economic and security situation in the region,” the AANES said.

“At the end of the meeting, four women and 10 children from ISIS families were handed over, according to an official handover document between the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria and the State of Canada.”

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The United States welcomed Canada’s repatriation of the 14 women and children, and said it had supported the operation.

“Repatriation is the only durable solution for this population, most of whom are vulnerable children under the age of 12,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel.

“Separately, 10,000 ISIS fighters are being held in detention facilities across the region. This constitutes the single largest concentration of detained terrorist fighters in the world and remains a threat to regional and international security.”

Four of the alleged ISIS fighters are Canadian men. The Federal Court has ordered the government to bring them back to Canada, but the decision was put on hold while the government appealed.

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A fifth Canadian man caught in Syria, Mohammad Khalifa, was flown to the U.S., where he pleaded guilty to executing prisoners and filming the killings for propaganda videos.

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