Spy accused of helping teens join ISIS claims he worked for Canadian intelligence
CBC News obtains Turkish intelligence report outlining Mohammad Al Rashed's claims
An accused spy detained in Turkey for allegedly helping three British girls join ISIS claims he worked for a Canadian intelligence agency, according to a Turkish intelligence report obtained by CBC News.
Mohammad Al Rashed, a Syrian who purportedly went by the alias Dr. Mehmet Resit, allegedly helped the girls cross from Turkey into Syria shortly after they flew from London to Istanbul on Feb. 17.
According to the intelligence report, Rashed accompanied the three teens — two aged 15 and one 16 — on a bus to Gaziantep, a town near the Turkey-Syria border often used as a staging point by those looking to join ISIS. Rashed allegedly left the girls with "individuals involved in human trafficking" with the understanding they would be taken to Syria.
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In a witness statement included in the report, Rashed claims he worked for Canadian intelligence and travelled occasionally to the Canadian Embassy in Jordan to share information he had gathered.
He claims he relayed information about his trip with the three British teens to Canadian intelligence on Feb. 21, and told Turkish authorities his ultimate goal was to obtain Canadian citizenship.
Rashed was detained on Feb. 28. According to the intelligence report, plane and bus tickets in the girls' names were found in his possession, as well as video of the girls meeting the human traffickers and setting off for the Syrian border. Similarly, photos of passports and images of passport stamps for at least 20 other people were found in his possession.
The report also says Turkish authorities have screen shots of text messages Rashed sent to Canadian intelligence officials.
A Turkish news channel on Friday released a video, reportedly filmed by the man in question, in the border town of Gaziantep. The video shows a man with three girls.
"At points, you can hear the Syrian suspect telling the girls not to forget their bags. You can see him on camera, at points, as well," CBC's Nil Koksal reported from Istanbul.
The Turkish media outlet Dogan quoted Rashad as saying he had accompanied at least 25 foreign fighters so far to Gaziantep.
Rashed purportedly entered Turkey 33 times using his Syrian passport and received multiple money wire transfers from people in England "with Arab names." According to the report, there is no evidence that Canadian intelligence officials sent Rashed money at any point.
Yesterday, CBC News learned that Rashed is not an employee of CSIS. Turkish intelligence said they couldn't find evidence that cash was exchanged between CSIS and Rashed, Koksal reported.
Earlier today, the Turkish foreign minister said Rashed is a Syrian national working for a country in the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, but did not elaborate further.
"The person who helped the three British girls into Syria is a Syrian national working for another country within the coalition. The situation is so complicated," Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara.
Rashed appeared in a Turkish court on March 4 and remains in custody.
Ray Boisvert, former CSIS director of intelligence and president of I-SEC Integrated Strategies, said the story about possible ties to CSIS is plausible, but there are too many unanswered questions about whether the Syrian man was really a source.
"Sometimes people claim to be affiliated to an organization when, in fact, they are about five times removed," Boisvert told CBC's Power & Politics.
Wesley Wark, an intelligence expert and visiting professor at the University of Ottawa, told host Rosemary Barton that the issue is murky — and likely political.
"I think some of this is really about Turkish politics and Turkey pushing back — because it is under such pressure from Western powers to do something about the foreign fighter issue and provide more help about ISIL," Wark said.
With files from Reuters