Rehab Dughmosh, the 32-year-old mother of two who attacked the staff and customers at a Toronto tire shop around the time of the London Bridge terror attack in early June, appeared in court on Monday.
Concealed beneath an Islamic robe and speaking through an Arabic interpreter, she renounced her Canadian citizenship and swore allegiance to the Islamic State in the courtroom, promising that she would attack again if she got the chance.
“I meant to harm those people,” she said of her victims, as quoted by Canada’s Global News.
“I reject all counsel here. I only believe in Islamic Sharia law. I would like to revoke my Canadian citizenship that I received. I don’t want to have any allegiance to you,” Dughmosh declared to Judge Kimberley Crosbie.
The defendant’s guilty plea was rather convoluted: “First of all, I’m not guilty. But if you release me, I’m going to commit this type of action again and again because I’m pledging allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In my perspective, I’m not guilty. In your perspective, I might be guilty.”
As the Global News and Toronto Sun recount the tale, Dugmosh appeared in the paint section of the Canadian Tire store at Cedarbrae Mall on June 3 wearing a niqab headdress and a bandana painted with an Islamic State symbol. She began swinging a golf club at staffers and customers while screaming “Allahu Akbar!” She allegedly produced a knife when efforts were made to restrain her. A store employee suffered “non-life-threatening injuries” while prying the knife out of her hand.
Dughmosh has been charged with assault, possessing a weapon, and issuing death threats, but she was not charged with terrorism, even though she declared fealty to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and claimed to be “from ISIS” during her bail hearing on June 6. A counterterrorism unit was called in to investigate the case and vowed that “no stone will be left unturned in her life,” but the Canadian government gives the distinct impression of not taking her claims of allegiance to ISIS very seriously.
An op-ed from Joe Warmington at the Toronto Sun argues that Dughmosh should have been promptly taken up on her demand for deportation but notes with some frustration that Judge Crosbie didn’t even accept her guilty plea.
Even more galling and disturbing, as Warmington points out, is that the court wouldn’t know where to send Dughmosh even if it decided to deport her:
First, they are not completely sure where she is originally from. They are working on the belief she was born in Syria but before Canada they are looking into leads of a possible stop in Jordan. Police sources say this investigation is very much still ongoing and all of her background, including mental health, is being probed.
The status of Dughmosh’s Canadian citizenship is also unclear, according to sources. She does have status in Canada but it’s still not clear if she has Canadian citizenship or has the belief that permanent resident status is one and the same.
If she is a Canadian citizen it would be next to impossible to deport her. If she has a temporary or permanent residence status, there is a process.
He further notes that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has explicitly stated that “terrorists should get to keep their Canadian citizenship,” and he is prepared to fight for their right to do so.