The Sunni militant group ISIS, which wants to create an Islamic state spanning Iraq and Syria, has issued a recruitment video using the image and words of a dead Ontario man who had become a jihadist and joined the fighting in Syria.
Andre Poulin, from Timmins, Ont., died in fighting in northern Syria last summer. Poulin, who went by the name Abu Muslim, converted to Islam and joined the fight in Syria in 2012.
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The 11-minute video is aimed at westerners and has Poulin talking about his life in Canada: "I had money. I had a good family ... I watched hockey, I went to the cottage in the summertime."
Poulin's life wasn't as sunny as he painted. He had a criminal record for uttering death threats, theft, harassment and carrying a weapon. Online, he wrote that he'd been accused of threatening to blow up a Timmins gas station.
Poulin refers to his home country as "dar al-kufr" — land of disbelief — and says he couldn't live in such a place where "you cannot obey Allah fully."
He also reveals that he got married after arriving in Syria and that his wife is pregnant. Poulin says those who can't join the fight should give money to the cause.
Possible initiation, expert says
Reports say Poulin left behind a wife and young child in Syria.
Shots of Canadians fishing, playing hockey and gassing up a snowmobile are interspersed with images of Poulin.
Scenes of fighting at the airport in Aleppo are also shown with the narrator saying Poulin fought and died there.
Steven Emerson of the Washington D.C.-based Investigative Project on Terrorism said Western recruits are often made to do such videos as an initiation.
"Before they actually participate in hostilities, one of the recruitment requirements is to make a video — sort of your last will and testament — for posterity, which are then posted online should they die in battle," he said.
The video was posted online by an American organization that tracks extremist groups, the Maryland-based SITE intelligence group. It is yet unclear when the video was taken.
SITE said the video was produced by the Islamic State's propaganda wing, the al-Hayat Media Center, and was first posted on a file-sharing website. There was no immediate verification of SITE's claim from the Canadian government.
Emerson said such videos are successful as Westerners appeal more to potential Western recruits, and that is evident in the "hundreds, if not thousands" of foreigners fighting in Syria in the last five years.