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 fight as a trained sniper with ISIS in Syria.

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

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

Borhot was sentenced to eight years on the primary terrorism charge and another four – to be served consecutively – for the kidnapping offence.

Borhot “very shameful”

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

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

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

“He understands what he did is terrible,” Katrib said.

Borhot has four children aged five to 13.

Borhot excelled as a 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 inform his wife or father of his plans.

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

Borhot then spent the next year fighting. He will eventually reveal to an undercover agent that he “liked shooting and jihad”.

At some point during his time with ISIS, Borhot went to a village with his group and kidnapped opposition fighters. When one of the victims returned, Borhot himself was kidnapped.

He was returned to his ISIS group after negotiating a prisoner exchange.

Undercover operations

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

The RCMP worked with the FBI and the US Department of Defense during this time.

The police also carried out two secret investigations between 2016 and 2020, during which Borhot confessed to his terrorist activities.

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

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