MONTREAL (Reuters) - The youngest person on trial for terrorism offences in Canada was spiralling out of control before his arrest, with his parents fearful he could carry out an attack, a prosecutor told a Montreal youth court on Tuesday.
The 16-year-old boy’s mother was not aware of any specific plans, but expressed her fears to police after he was arrested in October 2014 for robbing a Montreal convenience store when he was 15, prosecutor Lyne Decarie said.
The teen, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, admitted to the robbery but has pleaded not guilty to trying to use the stolen money to join a terrorist group in Syria.
The boy’s father, who immigrated from Algeria with his family in 2003, denounced his own son to police in October 2014 after discovering a bag hidden behind their home containing a mask, knife and cash.
RCMP have said Montreal police alerted the federal force when they realized the youth had become radicalised.
The defence, which tried unsuccessfully to get the charges dismissed last week, has said there is no proof the teen was linked to a terrorist organisation.
In her closing arguments at the youth’s trial, Decarie painted a picture of a family in crisis as they struggled to deal with the teen.
The 16-year-old boy was sullen and spent most of his time in his room, looking at Internet articles and photos of the war in Syria which have been used by some groups to radicalize teens, Decarie told the court.
He told his parents “he was going to participate in this fight one way or another,” Decarie said.
The teen also communicated a number of times through social media with Martin Couture-Rouleau, a Muslim convert who was fatally shot by police after killing one Canadian soldier and injuring another on Oct. 20, 2104, near Montreal.
Couture-Rouleau was one of two men who carried out jihadist-style attacks in Canada within days of each other.
The October attacks came after Canada sent fighter jets to the Middle East to participate in air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq.
Decarie said the youth also possessed Couture-Rouleau’s phone number and had asked the man at one point to loan him $50 to buy a knife.
She said his father changed his credit card numbers twice, after the teen was caught trying to donate to a group in Lebanon supporting opponents to the Assad regime and when he tried to buy an airline ticket to Turkey.
Both transactions were stopped by the bank.
The parents also tried to block his access to the Internet.
Reporting By Allison Lampert; Editing by Andrew Hay