Flying its black flags, the Islamic State group superior throughout Syria and Iraq in convoys of pickups and SUVs, some mounted with heavy weapons and strengthened with steel plates.
Autos had been central to the ISIS marketing campaign, however like every vans, they broke down, and mechanics had been wanted to maintain them on the street.
Mechanics like Boutros Massroua.
For a number of months in 2015, the Lebanese nationwide repaired ISIS autos, each within the Bekaa Valley, the place he lived, and throughout the border in Syria.
He wasn’t a member of ISIS. A Catholic, he needed to take away his crucifix earlier than going to work in order to not provoke his fanatical employers. However he was properly paid.
Now, the 54-year-old resides in British Columbia and combating Canadian authorities accusations he was complicit within the crimes in opposition to humanity of ISIS.
International Information first reported on the case on April 18 with out figuring out Massroua as a result of the federal government had eliminated his title from his refugee file.
However International Information has since obtained paperwork, publicly put into the court docket file by Massroua himself, that determine him by title and supply a fuller image of his previous.
The Canada Border Providers Company wouldn’t reply questions concerning the case. The Vancouver lawyer representing Massroua additionally declined to remark.
However in Vancouver, the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) dominated he had dedicated against the law in opposition to humanity, making him ineligible for refugee standing.
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IRB member Michal Fox wrote that ISIS wanted Massroua’s automotive experience and that by working for the terrorist group he had “willingly and knowingly” contributed to ISIS.
“If it weren’t for the principal claimant’s work on these armed autos, these autos wouldn’t be returning to Syria with weapons on high of them — to shoot unarmed girls, kids, males of each faith, to explode buildings,” Fox wrote.
“This can be a vital contribution to all the conflict effort of ISIS.”
The choice was upheld on enchantment and is now earlier than the courts.
Whereas Canada has prosecuted a handful of ISIS supporters, the Massroua case is uncommon in that the federal government is utilizing conflict crime legal guidelines in opposition to an alleged ISIS collaborator.
Kyle Matthews, govt director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Research, stated that precedent must be utilized to those that left Canada to hitch ISIS and had been captured.
“That his enchantment was rejected and that he was discovered to be complicit in crimes in opposition to humanity is a victory for human rights and will assist information how the Canadian authorities strikes ahead in coping with its residents who joined ISIS and have returned to Canada,” he stated.
“ISIS has carried out probably the most horrific mass atrocity crimes in Syria and Iraq, and Canadians, female and male, who travelled to the Center East to hitch the group are equally complicit because the Lebanese asylum-seeker.”
Massroua is from Zahle, a Lebanese metropolis close to the Syrian border. He labored as a mechanic for a small firm. His spouse was an accountant at a Catholic faculty.
In December 2014, a person named Abou Mohamed introduced an SUV to Massroua and was impressed together with his expertise.
“He appreciated my work as a result of I’m a specialist in tough repairs and was capable of do the repairs with ease the place the opposite mechanics had failed,” Massroua wrote in his refugee declare.
Mohamed introduced Massroua extra autos after which requested him to come back to Majdal Anjar, a city on the Syrian border.
Massroua agreed and labored on autos whereas additionally overseeing different mechanics. Earlier than lengthy, he was taken to a brand new location.
It was a giant coated car parking zone that contained as much as 20 jeeps and four-by-fours that had been repainted and strengthened with steel plates and bars.
None had licence plates. Some had bullet holes of their sides. He noticed a navy weapon in a single and observed the folks wore lengthy beards and spoke in Syrian or Iraqi accents.
Regardless of the indications he was working for ISIS, he returned repeatedly, all the time at evening. Every time, he was patted down, and his cellphone was taken away, however he was glad to conform and he made good cash.
For a single evening, he was paid as a lot as US$400 — roughly half his month-to-month wage at his daytime job.
ISIS had greater plans for him. As a result of Massroua was a Christian, and subsequently much less more likely to arouse suspicions, ISIS wished to ship him to China and organized a visa.
“They wished me to purchase one thing for them,” he stated.
He didn’t know what however he had rising trigger for suspicion. He was engaged on a truck when he smelled blood inside. “I appeared round me and noticed blood, a few of which by chance obtained on my fingers,” he wrote.
“It was nonetheless sticky.”
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He mounted the truck anyway however stated he subsequently made excuses to not return. Gunmen would then come to his home to take him to the autos, he stated.
“3 times they took me into Syria to do repairs there,” he wrote. “I used to be satisfied by then that they had been ISIS.”
However in line with the IRB, Massroua knew from the outset who he was working for, and the proof solely grew over time. He was additionally explicitly warned that his employer was ISIS.
A member of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which was combating ISIS, got here to Massroua’s home and gave him per week to cease working for ISIS.
By then, Massroua stated, he and his spouse had determined to go away the nation. His spouse had a sister in Canada, and she or he despatched a a call for participation.
4 days later, nonetheless, Massroua was again at it. He spent the evening fixing ISIS autos, returning residence at 6 a.m.
Hezbollah paid him one other go to and threatened him, he stated. They stated they knew he had been with ISIS once more. They advised him the precise time he had come residence so he knew he was being watched.
However when ISIS got here again to his home to take him to Syria, he went with them once more — unwillingly, he claimed, though their car obtained a flat they usually by no means made it.
Two Hezbollah members quickly confirmed up at his office and drove him to a spot known as Turbul. This time, in line with Massroua, they wished him to maintain working for ISIS so he might spy on the group.
ISIS got here once more that evening and took him to the restore facility, then into Syria to repair an SUV.
“As soon as I used to be completed, they took me again residence, round 2 a.m.,” Massroua stated.
The following morning, Hezbollah stated they had been going to put a recording machine on him. Massroua claimed they threatened to kill him and his spouse if he didn’t co-operate.
With their Canadian customer visas accredited, Massroua and his spouse drove to Beirut, picked them up on the embassy and caught the 1 a.m. flight out of Lebanon on Could 23.
The home windows of his spouse’s automotive had been later smashed and their home was ransacked, in line with Massroua.
“Each side need me now,” he wrote in his refugee declare.
His previous rapidly grew to become a difficulty in Canada. At a listening to in Vancouver on Could four, 2016, the federal government argued Massroua was inadmissible to Canada for being a member of ISIS.
The IRB disagreed, saying he wasn’t a member, however following a separate listening to 5 months later, the company dominated he was complicit in crimes in opposition to humanity.
The choice stated Massroua had completed it for the cash and was employed by ISIS due to his experience in car electronics and transmissions.
“He was wanted to get these autos with arms on high of them and bullet holes on the skin of them in working order in order that they could possibly be used once more for navy ISIS functions,” the IRB wrote.
The IRB dismissed the declare that Massroua was working for ISIS below duress, noting he had the money he’d earned from ISIS and two vehicles and will have fled anytime.
“Even after Hezbollah advised him to cease working for ISIS at first, the claimant didn’t cease working for ISIS,” Fox wrote on Oct. 12, 2016.
“The claimant stayed put at his residence ready for extra ISIS work till he lastly left the nation in late Could 2016. He had labored for ISIS for at the very least three full months.”
When Massroua determined to go away residence, no one tried to cease him, the IRB famous.
“There isn’t a defence of duress,” the board concluded.
The Refugee Enchantment Division concurred in a ruling handed down in December. Massroua is now combating the matter within the Federal Courtroom in Vancouver, arguing he was coerced into working for ISIS.
He “took quick steps to securely take away himself from this sporadic after-hours work as soon as he knew that this was possible a prison operation,” his lawyer wrote.
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