Dear Reader: We are very pleased to republish this November article by Coalition Treasurer Ken Stone.
‘ISIS Bride’ returns to Canada
Written by: Ken Stone, for The Canada Files
Kimberley Polman, a native of Hamilton, Ontario, returned to Canada recently after having secretly travelled to Syria in 2015 to marry an ISIS fighter (a member of the armed terrorist group styling itself as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; sometimes referred to as ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant; or “Daesh” in Arabic). She is part of a group of fifty Canadian men, women, and children who have been held for several years in detainment camps run by the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), a Kurdish-separatist militia used by the US government to illegally occupy north-eastern Syria, a third of the whole country, where Syria’s petroleum resources are located. Twenty-three of the detainees are represented by a Canadian lawyer known for taking on high-profile cases, Lawrence Greenspon.
In an interview with the CBC on October 26, 2022, Greenspon noted that his client, Polman, who has serious health issues, has been held in harsh conditions for three years in a detention camp without being charged. She was arrested by the RCMP upon landing in Montreal but was released on bail. According to Greenspon, Polman won’t be subject to criminal charges but rather obliged to sign a peace bond, a legal contract with the court to live under specified conditions for a specified period of time. In other words, at some point in the future, after meeting the terms of her peace bond, Polman will likely walk free.
Arriving in Canada alongside Polman was Oumaima Chouay and her two children. Chouay, however, faces charges of leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group, participating in a terrorist group, providing property or services for terrorism purposes, and conspiracy to participate in the activity of a terrorist group. She goes to court in British Columbia (a Canadian province), like Polman, on Nov. 8, 2022.
What is ISIS?
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria burst onto the world stage in June 2014. A handful of its followers, in a long column of brown Toyota pickup trucks, wended its way across the open desert in broad daylight. In the full view of the occupying US air force, they crossed unopposed from Syria into Iraq and proceeded to seize and occupy Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, hardly firing a shot. Of course, much preparation went into that invasion. As early as 2012, the Defence Intelligence Agency of the USA reported that plans to establish a “caliphate” (Islamic state) were in the works straddling the borders of Iraq and Syria. This agency noted that “this is exactly what the supporting powers to the (armed Syrian) opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.” The leader of this putative state was Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, an Iraqi cleric who had been held for a time in the US prison at Camp Bucca in Iraq where he joined al Qaeda in 2004. He was later killed in a US raid on his compound in Syria’s Idlib province in 2019.
ISIS was one of well over one hundred terrorist militias which were organized, trained, equipped, and funded by the USA and its coalition of countries (including Canada, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel) willing to violate international law in attempting to overthrow the democratically elected and sovereign government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The US proxy war on Syria was unleashed in March 2011 at about the same time as a similar regime change operation was initiated by the USA in Libya to unseat Colonel Mouammar Gadaffi in Libya, with Canada leading the NATO destruction of the most prosperous nation in Africa. A wave of disturbances swept West Asia (also known as the “Middle East”) and North Africa under the guise of the “Arab Spring.” The US government was trying to reorganize the countries of West Asia and North Africa. The US wanted these countries to be puppets who’d assist in their strategic foreign policy goal of securing West Asian and North African petroleum resources. These resources wouldn’t even be for their own use, but rather to control the flow of these critical resources to Europe, India, and China.
It was for this reason that the USA and UK invaded Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, unleashing turmoil in West Asia and in North and Western Africa that persists until today. It was partly for this reason that the US initiated the attempted regime change operation in Syria in 2011, which is not over yet, eleven years later. All told, the US wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Iraq contributed to an unprecedentedly-large wave of millions of refugees that swept over Europe and North America in the past decade.
The US plan for ISIS would effectively fracture the nation states of Syria and Iraq. The US would then be able to further balkanize the countries of Syria and Iraq into small and weak statelets, each run by leaders of compliant religious or ethnic groups, such as the Kurds. In the worst case scenario for the USA, if ISIS were challenged by a resurgent Syrian and/or Iraqi government in alliance with Iran Russia, and Hezbollah (of Lebanon), then the presence of ISIS in both countries would provide a pretext (under GW Bush’s so-called “War on Terror”) for the USA to maintain a military presence with troops, tanks, and aircraft in both countries and thus to maintain control of the petroleum resources of each.
As it happened, the worst-case scenario for the USA unfolded. Under the de-facto leadership of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, a military alliance including the armed forces of Iran, Syria, Russia, plus the irregular forces of Hezbollah, Popular Mobilization Forces of Iraq, and certain armed Palestinian militias, decisively defeated ISIS on the battlefield – with little help from the USA.
In fact, the US coalition did what it could to aid ISIS by purposely ‘misdropping’ supplies to the terrorists and by providing intelligence to ISIS;: these supplies were meant to reach official allies of the USA on several occasions,. This resulted in the deaths of many Syrian Arab Army soldiers, along with US soldiers standing down on several occasions when ISIS launched attacks across the open desert on Palmyra, Syria. Both Joe Biden, then US Vice-President and Martin Dempsey, then US top general, both admitted US support for ISIS on separate occasions respectively in October and September 2014.
On every occasion that ISIS suffered a major military defeat, such as at Raqqa (the capital city of ISIS), US forces, which had carpet-bombed the city with little regard for the city’s civilian population, rescued large numbers of ISIS fighters. They’d bus ISIS fighters out to other theatres of conflict such as its Al Tanf base in Syria and also to Afghanistan, following the chaotic collapse of the US occupation there.
In the summer of 2015, while the West’s proxy war against Syria continued, then-British Columbia resident Kimberly Polman informed her family that she was taking a trip to Austria. Actually, she went to Syria after marrying an ISIS fighter online. She now recounts that she endured violence at the hands of ISIS, including having been raped on multiple occasions.
Polman spent several years under very harsh conditions in a detainment camp in northeastern Syria along with thousands of other detainees with a connection to ISIS, including the other 49 prisoners claiming Canadian citizenship. According to lawyer Greenspon, about 20 countries have repatriated over one thousand prisoners from these detainment camps. The Trudeau government, up to now, has shown a marked reluctance to do so.
According to former Canadian Global Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne, “Given the security situation and the lack of a physical presence on the ground, the Government of Canada’s ability to provide consular assistance in any part of Syria is extremely limited. Nevertheless, Canadian consular officials are engaged directly with the Canadians in the custody of the [Autonomous Administration of Northeastern Syria] … or their family members in Canada, to monitor their location and well-being.” Champagne also said Global Affairs has established a communication channel with regional authorities in northeast Syria “to advocate for the [detainees’] well-being to the extent possible.”
But the hands of successive Canadian governments are not clean in regards to Syria. Both the Harper and Trudeau governments have been accomplices of US efforts to overthrow the government of Syria.
Here’s a partial list of Canada’s dirty role in Syria:
In December 2011, Canada’s ambassador to Tunisia, Glenn Davidson, was tasked with organizing the pre-conference to launch the Friends of Syria Group of Countries (FSG) in Tunis in February 2012. The FSG was the coalition of countries the USA used to coordinate, fund, and supply terrorist mercenary forces in Syria in obvious violation of international law and the UN Charter.
Canada’s Foreign Minister, John Baird, invited members of the Syrian National Council to Ottawa in December 2011 and later travelled to Turkey to attend international conferences in support of the proxy warriors. In addition, Defence Minister Peter MacKay invited key figures of the Syrian armed opposition to the Halifax International Security Forum, a major Department of Defence and NATO gathering;
The Harper government unilaterally broke off diplomatic relations with Syria in May, 2012, and delegated an ambassador to the Syrian National Council, the pretender government created by the USA;
In June 2013, the Harper government hosted a meeting of the Sanctions Sub-Committee of the FSG which drew up the harsh regime of unilateral economic sanctions which has impoverished 80 per cent of the Syrian people. These sanctions are illegal because they lack the approval of the UN Security Council. But the effect of those coercive economic measures, which persist until today, was to turn millions of Syrian people into refugees, some of whom, such as Alan Kurdi, died in Turkish waters. About 30,000 of which ended up in Canada.
In accordance with his 2015 campaign promise to “end the combat mission in Iraq”, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did remove Canadian fighter jets from the Global Coalition Against Daesh. \Trudeau replaced them with reconnaissance and refueling aircraft at the service of the US coalition (which continued to operate illegally over Syria) and sent military “trainers” to fight alongside the Kurdish-separatist entity in Northern Iraq;
The Trudeau government supported the Syrian White Helmets with at least 7.5 million dollars in funding and toured the group’s spokespersons in Canada. The White Helmets, a propaganda tool of the West against Syria, was a creation of British intelligence through John LeMesurier, who later died under mysterious circumstances in Turkey, after allegations of financial corruption.
The most notorious fraud committed by the White Helmets was to stage a fake chemical attack in Douma, Syria, in April 2018 and blame the Syrian government. This led to USA, UK, and France launching a missile attack on Syria, an act of undeclared war. Later, inspectors of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) submitted detailed reports. Due to political and economic pressure from the US and NATO allies, including Canada, the OPCW suppressed the inspectors’ reports. This scandal threatens to destroy the organization’s reputation.
Later, when the Syrian Arab Army liberated Daraa, hundreds of White Helmets and their Al Nusra / Al Qaeda terrorist allies fled into Israeli occupied Golan. Trudeau’s then-Global Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, took credit for their “rescue”. Several hundred of the fugitives disappeared; many of the rest were given refugee status in Canada.
On November 8, when “ISIL Bride” Kimberley Polman and Oumaima Chouay appear in a British Columbia courtroom, Canadians will watch to see how Canada will treat its citizens who illegally travelled to Syria to join ISIS. However, Canadians also deserve an accounting from our current and former leaders, as to what they contributed to the enduring misery of the Syrian people since the regime change war began in 2011.
One of the accounts still unsettled is that of CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and its role in running a double agent, a Syrian by the name of Mohammed al-Rashid, who trafficked people like Kimberly Polman into Syria to be recruited by ISIS.
Part 2 – The story of Mohammed al-Rashid. Has the human trafficker been resettled in Canada?
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Ken Stone is a veteran anti-war, anti-racist, social justice, and environmental activist in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He is the Treasurer of the Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War; a member of the Canada-Wide Peace and Justice Network; Steering Committee member of the Syria Support Movement; and a former Central Committee member of the Global March to Jerusalem.