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Calgary man pleads guilty to terrorism count after posts on TikTok, Snapchat

Hussein knowingly facilitated terrorist activity by posting an Islamic State group recruitment: Documents
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A 20-year old Calgary man has pleaded guilty to one count of facilitating terrorist activity. The sign at the Calgary Courts Centre in Calgary is shown on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Graveland

A man has pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge after admitting he shared recruitment videos for the Islamic State group on TikTok, wrote out instructions on how to make a bomb and posted on Snapchat that his mission would begin during Pride month.

Zakarya Rida Hussein, 20, was charged in June with two counts of facilitating terrorist activity and two counts of participating in or contributing to an activity of a terrorist group.

Hussein appeared Friday via video in the Alberta Court of Justice in Calgary. Some of his family members were in the courtroom.

His lawyer, Alain Hepner, entered Hussein’s plea to one count of facilitating terrorist activity.

“The plea is guilty,” Hepner told Justice Harry Van Harten.

An agreed statement of facts, which was read into court by federal Crown prosecutor Kent Brown, said Hussein was arrested at his home by the RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Team with assistance from the Calgary Police Service on June 15.

It says a search warrant on his home and vehicle found a notebook with the step-by-step instructions for making an improvised explosive device, an Islamic State group flag, several electronics, a black collapsible baton, knives and imitation brass knuckles.

During a post-arrest interview, the statement says Hussein admitted ownership of his social media accounts, including on TikTok and Snapchat. He also admitted to writing out the instructions found in his bedroom, the statement says.

The document adds that Hussein knowingly facilitated terrorist activity on May 14 by posting an Islamic State group recruitment video on TikTok, which received comments from other users that included “I$I$ and proud,” and “the video itself is very motivational.”

It says he later shared a longer version of the same video in a text message chat.

The statement says Hussein posted a Snapchat message on June 1 that his mission would begin the next day.

“It’s Pride month,” he wrote. “I’ve been waiting.”

Hussein then referred to two different types of explosive devices and one of those devices matched what was described in the handwritten instructions seized from his bedroom, says the statement.

It says he also shared a video to a group chat containing “extremist ideological interpretations that encouraged the killing of gay men.”

The document notes Hussein had earlier this year replied to an automated text message from Alberta’s United Conservative Party asking for his support.

“No,” he wrote back on March 2. “I’m gonna do a terrorist attack on you guys.”

The statement says he received additional automated messages from the UCP, including one on April 4 that asked if they could put a sign up at his house, and he replied: “I’ll blow you guys up with (an) explosive.”

The Alberta election was held on May 29.

The court document says Hussein was in a group chat with four other people in June when he asked “Yo do you know how to detonate the (explosive) thing?”

His Snapchat posts included videos that showed mass executions and beheadings and he was also a member of at least 10 channels on Telegram, an instant messaging service, that promoted and exchanged extremist videos.

The document says his web browser searches included how to join the Islamic State group, suicide attacks and gay Pride month, Pride month Calgary and killing gay people.

Hepner ordered a risk assessment report for Hussein before he’s to be sentenced next year. That report could take between two to three months, he said.

The Crown said it plans to withdraw the remaining three counts at sentencing.

RCMP have arrested two other young Calgarians for terrorism-related offences in an ongoing national security investigation.

The two teens, who cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, have been released with conditions, pending the outcome of Terrorism Peace Bond applications. A peace bond can be used to impose conditions when there are reasonable grounds to believe terrorism activity may be carried out.

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press