A Calgary man who allegedly travelled to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and at one time was rumoured to have been killed in Iraq, has now been charged in absentia in Canada with numerous terrorism-related criminal offences.
The RCMP announced Thursday that 22-year-old Farah Mohamed Shirdon faces six charges under the Criminal Code related to his alleged support of ISIS, which RCMP said began after he left Canada in March 2014.
- Farah Mohamed Shirdon, Canadian jihadist thought killed in Iraq, appears in Vice video
- Farah Mohamed Shirdon of Calgary fighting for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
"Our investigation showed that Shirdon served in a combat role and performed other functions for ISIS such as recruiting, fundraising, encouraging others to commit violence, and spreading propaganda — all designed to enhance the activities of the ISIS," assistant commissioner Marlin DeGrand, the officer in charge of RCMP criminal operations in Alberta, said in a release.
A Canada-wide warrant has been issued for Shirdon's arrest and the Mounties also plan to issue a red notice via Interpol, with the goal of arresting Shirdon internationally to be returned to Canada for prosecution.
All six charges against Shirdon are under Section 83 of the Criminal Code dealing with terrorism:
- Leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group.
- Participating in the activity of a terrorist group.
- Two counts of instructing a person to carry out terrorist activity.
- Two counts of commission of an indictable offence for a terrorist group.
"These charges not only demonstrate that the RCMP is taking active measures to investigate and pursue criminal charges against high-risk travellers, but also serve as a powerful deterrent message to individuals seeking to travel abroad for terrorist purposes and those already engaged in such activity," James Malizia, the RCMP's assistant commissioner, said in a statement.
Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former CSIS senior intelligence officer and CEO of a security consulting firm, described the RCMP's decision to charge Shirdon now as a "proactive measure."
"So, if he ever tried to come back to Canada, or if he travelled in a country that is part of the Interpol and has potentially the capacity to extradite him, we will be capable to arrest him at that point," Juneau-Katsuya said.
He added the charges also serve as deterrent.
"It sends a message for the other potential terrorists that regardless if you are abroad or in Canada, we will continue our pursuit and we will eventually lay charges against you," he said.
"It will give them one more reason to think before they decide to be recruited by these terrorist organizations," he said.
"I think the most important step for RCMP and the police is to find out who recruited these people from Calgary and other parts of the country, who facilitated their journey, who funded their journey. These are young boys and girls."
Among them is Salman Ashrafi, known as Abu Abdullah Al Khorasani, who was killed in a double suicide bombing in Iraq in November that killed 46 people.
Muslim convert Damian Clairmont, who later took the name Mustafa al-Gharib, was killed while fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel group in Syria whose membership is made up largely of European, Australian and North American extremists.
Greg and Collin Gordon, who converted to Islam and became known to members of Calgary's Muslim community as Abdul Malik and Khalid, had joined the ranks of foreign fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The brothers disappeared sometime in late 2012.