Calgary terrorist who fought as ISIS sniper in Syria sentenced to 12 years in prison

A Calgary man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for terrorism offences, including kidnapping, committed during a year-long stint fighting as a trained sniper with ISIS in Syria.

Last month, Hussein Sobhe Borhot, 36, pleaded guilty to participating in terrorist activities outside Canada and committing a crime at the direction of a terrorist organization. 

On Thursday, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice David Labrenz accepted a joint submission proposed by prosecutor Kent Brown and defence lawyer Rame Katrib.

Borhot was sentenced to eight years for the main terrorism charge and another four — to be served consecutively — for the kidnapping offence. 

Borhot ‘very ashamed’

Labrenz has also ordered a lifetime weapons ban and stipulated that Borhot serve half of his sentence before he can apply for parole.

“This was an extremely serious and grave crime,” said the judge. “This was not a crime of impulsiveness.”

Katrib said Borhot and his family are “very ashamed of what happened.”

“He understands what he’s done is terrible,” said Katrib.

Borhot has four children who range in age from five to 13 years old.

Borhot excelled as sniper

On May 9, 2013, Borhot left his wife and son and boarded a plane for Turkey. According to an agreed statement of facts, he did not tell his wife or father of his plans.

Once in Turkey, Borhot snuck across the border and began training with ISIS, excelling as a sniper.

Borhot then spent the next year fighting. He would eventually disclose to an undercover officer that he “loved shooting and jihad.”

At one point during his time with ISIS, Borhot travelled to a village with his group and kidnapped opposition fighters. Upon returning one of the victims, Borhot himself was kidnapped. 

He was returned to his ISIS group after a prisoner swap was negotiated.

Undercover operations

When Borhot returned to Canada in 2014, police launched an investigation that would span the next seven years. 

RCMP worked with both the FBI and U.S. Department of Defense during that time.

Police also ran two undercover investigations between 2016 and 2020, during which Borhot confessed to his terrorism activities.

In July 2020, Borhot was arrested and charged. He has been out on bail under a number of strict conditions, including that he wear an ankle monitoring system. 

In September 2020, Borhot’s cousin, Jamal Borhot, was also charged with related offences. He has not yet gone to trial. 

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