Calgary

Calgary imam spoke with ISIS fighters from Canada prior to departure

A Calgary imam says he tried to stop young people from going overseas to fight with ISIS.

Abdi ​Hersy talked to Damian Clairmont before he left for Syria

Calgary Imam Abdi ​Hersy says more needs to be done to counter the ISIS recruitment campaign for Canadian youth. (CBC)

A Calgary imam says he tried to stop young people from going overseas to fight with ISIS.

Abdi ​Hersy says he talked with Damian Clairmont before the 22-year-old went to fight in Syria in 2012.

"I knew Damian in person. I spoke with him a little before," he said.

"He was looking for a better life, according to him, and that's where he ended up — going to Syria, fighting and dying."

Hersy also crossed paths with Farah Mohamed Shirdon, another Calgarian who went to fight overseas.

Hersy remembers him under very different circumstances.

"Shirdon was ... in this mosque and he was in a youth event that we held in here and he was one of the performers encouraging youngsters to be good," he said. "All the sudden he is gone."

Hersy says in most cases the people he hears of leaving to fight overseas are already gone or appear in an ISIS video.

New video

He says the release of a new ISIS recruitment video featuring a young Ottawa jihadist means the threat is more real than ever.

"I even feel guilty every time I watch because I am giving him publicity," said Hersy.

He knows first-hand how powerful these types of videos that threaten the Western world can be.

"We are coming and we will destroy you," says the video. 

Hersy says radicalization in this country continues to happen.

"It's a reality, a fact that we cannot deny because every day we hear somebody left," he said. 

Hersy hopes more people speak out to help rival the ISIS campaign that continues to attract Canadians.

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