Hamilton ‘ISIL bride’ returns to Canada after 7-year odyssey

Kimberly Polman touched down on Canadian soil in the middle of the night, returning home Wednesday after a seven-year odyssey in Syria, the last three and a half of them trapped in a detainment camp.

It was the summer of 2015 that the Hamilton native, who was living in B.C., reportedly told her family that she was taking a trip to Austria.

In fact, she was heading to war-ravaged Syria, having met and married a man online who belonged to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

At that time, the terrorist organization was on the offensive, having occupied cities in northern Syria and northern Iraq and declared its “caliphate” (a religious-political state).

Her ISIL connection is the reason she was ordered to attend court in B.C. on Thursday. Her lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, said federal prosecutors would request a peace bond be imposed — a measure where an individual who is not criminally charged agrees to live under certain conditions.

He told The Spectator a peace bond is often employed in cases of domestic violence, but in this instance he said it’s akin to a “souped up” peace bond.

In contrast to Polman, Oumaima Chouay — a second Canadian “ISIL bride” who was repatriated this week — was charged with “leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group,” and similar terrorism related-offences, according to multiple published reports.

Greenspon has said authorities perhaps lack evidence that would have led them to charge his client as well.

Polman has told journalists of violence she endured at the hands of ISIL, including having been raped “multiple times,” while also asserting that she had been unaware of the murderous nature of ISIL when she left Canada seven years ago.

By 2015, ISIL had received extensive media coverage for its atrocities, including the beheading of a journalist and aid worker, and the massacre at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Polman, who is about 49 years old, holds dual Canadian-American citizenship. She has said she grew up in a Reformed Mennonite family in Hamilton.

She told a filmmaker that after separating from her first husband in Canada, she converted to Islam, remarried and lived briefly in Saudi Arabia with her new husband, prior to marrying the ISIL member.

It was at about 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, that a jet transporting Polman landed in Montreal and then, at 4 a.m., Greenspon received a call from an RCMP official, who connected the two. She was later flown to B.C.

He said he received a heads-up Tuesday by an official at Global Affairs Canada that Polman had been taken from the Al-Roj detainment camp.

Greenspon is scheduled to argue in early December in federal court that 23 additional clients of his — Canadian “men, women and children” — held at the camp be repatriated.

“This should put to rest the notion that Global Affairs Canada doesn’t have the ability to repatriate Canadians; Kimberly Polman’s repatriation is exhibit A.”

He believes it was Polman’s poor health that forced the hands of Canadian officials to bring her back. Last year he told the Spec that she was suffering from mental and physical illnesses, including lung and kidney issues, as well as hepatitis and malnutrition.