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Judge poised to instruct jury in case of woman facing terror charges

TORONTO — An Ontario judge is expected to give his final instructions today to jurors weighing the case of a Toronto-area woman facing terror charges in an attack at a Canadian Tire store. 

Rehab Dughmosh was arrested in July 2017 on allegations she tried to attack employees with a golf club and a butcher knife at a location at a mall in east Toronto.

She initially faced a total of 21 charges, but court documents filed this week show she now faces four. They include two counts of assault with a weapon and one of carrying a weapon — all in the name of ISIS.

Dughmosh is also charged with leaving Canada for the purpose of committing a criminal offence in connection with an attempted trip to Syria in April 2016.

An agreed statement of facts read in court Wednesday says that while Dughmosh initially denied she was travelling in an effort to join ISIS, she admitted after her arrest in 2017 that it had been the true purpose of the trip.

The statement also says Dughmosh began contemplating an attack in Toronto about a year after her return and quickly began to build an arsenal of storebought and homemade weapons. It says she also made an ISIS banner using black spray paint.

On June 3, 2017, Dughmosh decided to move forward with an attack and packed several bags with makeshift weapons, including a hammer, 31 metal barbecue skewers, 76 straws with screws glued to the tip, scissors and a child’s shovel “converted to claws,” the statement says.

She also hid an archery bow and 20-centimetre butcher knife inside her robe, it says.

However, on her way out, Dughmosh ran into her estranged husband with whom she still shared an apartment, and he confiscated the bags of weapons, the statement says. He did not know about the concealed weapons.

Once she arrived at Canadian Tire, Dughmosh tried to obtain arrows but they were locked in a display case and an employee said he could only bring them to the cashier, the document says.

Dughmosh did not have money so instead she gave up on the arrows and walked through the store collecting tools in a shopping basket, it says. She then went to get a golf club, it says.

Shortly after 5 p.m., Dughmosh pulled an ISIS banner from under her robe, tied an ISIS bandana around her head and took out the bow, the document says. She then grabbed the golf club and walked over to the paint section, where three employees were helping customers, it says.

The statement says Dughmosh charged at them, swinging the club and chanting “This is for ISIS,” but staff were able to grab the club from her hands. She then pulled out the butcher knife, but the employees managed to wrestle her to the ground and eventually seize the knife, it says.

No one was seriously hurt, although one employee suffered bruises and was also bitten by Dughmosh, the document says.

Police arrived and called in RCMP due to the possible terror link, it says. In her interview with the RCMP’s national security unit, Dughmosh admitted that she had unilaterally pledged allegiance to ISIS after reading about the terror group and watching videos online, the statement says.

She told investigators she chose that day for the attack because “there would be many people at the mall,” the statement says.

“She said she wanted to hurt people and make them feel fear but not kill them,” the document says, explaining that the alleged attack was meant as payback for what she saw as the public’s tacit agreement with governments killing Muslims.

“She wanted news of her own attack to be published, she believed ISIS would be happy with what she had done,” it says. “She was disappointed that she failed to hurt anyone in her attack but also stated that the important thing was to try.”

Police later searched her home and found the bags with the weapons confiscated by her estranged husband, as well as a cellphone that contained propaganda videos and a handwritten will in which Dughmosh asked to be granted martyrdom, the statement says.

Dughmosh, who represented herself in court, previously underwent a psychological assessment and was deemed fit to stand trial.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press