Michel Juneau-Katsuya, former spy, says ISIS supporter likely not alone

Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former CSIS operative, says a radicalized Winnipegger is more than likely part of a larger community of extremists.

Local ISIS supporter is likely part of a larger community of radical extremists

Abdurahman's Twitter page contains pro-ISIS messages.

A former intelligence operative says Harun Abdurahman, a 23-year-old Winnipegger who converted to Islam in 2008 and has since radicalized, is likely not alone. 

Abdurahman’s father — a career member of the Canadian Forces who has asked to not be identified — told CBC the Canadian Security Intelligence Service approached him last December about his son, and showed him a thick file of his son’s online activity.

"Some things made me want to throw up," the father said. "People beheaded — he's commenting on them like it's some big joke, and he's applauding their actions. There was picture of Christian kids being assassinated, and he said they deserved it."

CSIS called Abdurahman’s father last week to tell him concern about his son is escalating because of the volume and seriousness of his tweets. They said Abdurahman was being monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Michel Juneau-Katsuya is the CEO of The Northgate Group, a security consulting firm, and guest professor in criminology at the University of Ottawa. He said operatives will often “go directly to the parents, to go directly to the friends and try and figure out what’s going on.”

They will also approach the individual themselves. That normally comes in the form of “two people showing up at your door unannounced, telling you they would like to have a chat,” says Juneau-Katsuya. Though CSIS sometimes avoids contact.

“There is a catch-22 [...] because now you reveal this is a person of interest,” said Juneau-Katsuya. “If we have discovered earlier on that this person is really involved in something serious we will pull back and try and identify the associates, the network, how they operate.”

Juneau-Katsuya said he has no way of knowing if Abdurahman is alone, or working within a network of radicalized people in Winnipeg, but “where there is one there are usually others,” said the former intelligence operative.

“When you are embarking on a radicalization process there’s a certain level of positive reinforcement you need from peers,” he added.

CBC has reached out to Abdurahman but he declined an interview.