Farah Mohamed Shirdon, Canadian jihadist thought killed in Iraq, appears in Vice video
Fighter says in interview he wasn't recruited to join ISIS
A Calgary man who was rumoured to be dead after travelling to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria appears to be alive and has conducted a video interview with media outlet Vice.
Farah Mohamed Shirdon, of Calgary, first came to attention in an ISIS video released earlier this year in which he tears up his passport and makes threats against the enemies of ISIS — naming both Canada and the U.S.
In August, CBC reported that social media postings were saying that Shirdon had been killed in Iraq.
But after seeing reports that Shirdon may in fact still be alive, Vice used social media to track him down and arranged a video interview that Vice says took place on Sept. 23.
Vice says the interview, conducted by founder Shane Smith, was done on Sept. 23. Vice notes that the man Smith is speaking with is thought to be Shirdon. CBC producer Nazim Baksh, who has followed the story closely, says that the man in the video is in fact Shirdon, a former Calgary resident who studied at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology.
In the video released by Vice, the man said that nobody recruited him, and that he is just one of thousands of foreign fighters who have travelled to Iraq.
"No one spoke a single word to me," he said. "I opened the newspaper, I read the Qur'an – very easy."
He said intelligence officials came to him "five or six days" before he left Canada.
"This is the truth," he said. "All of their intelligence workers are imbeciles…FBI, CSIS."
"I can't believe how someone that has extremist, terrorist ideologies was sitting in front of you and you didn't capture them," he said. "The next time they saw me, they saw me ripping up my passport."
In the video interview, he talks about what drove him to join ISIS and he makes several threats against foreign targets, including New York City.
A Calgary Imam sees the latest video as propaganda aimed at young Muslims who have grievances against the West.
"They will be definitely influenced," said Syed Soharwardy. "They will be motivated by this video and that's what the huge danger is. So this is a recruitment video for those who are still on the borderline and then also it's going to create backlash against Muslims and that's what they want."
Soharwardy, the founder of Muslims Against Terrorism and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, has been a vocal opponent of ISIS in the past. He went on a 48-hour hunger strike in August to protest the beheading of an American journalist James Foley.
The Vice video was released a day after a UN Security Council meeting Wednesday that focused on the problem of foreign fighters.
Canada was a co-sponsor of the resolution, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper itemized a number of steps Canada is taking to try to stem the flow of foreign militants.
"The number of foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq is, of course, not only aggravating an already dangerous regional security situation, but, for us, it involves the risk that individuals may return home with knowledge and experience gained in terrorist activities to motivate and recruit others and potentially to conduct attacks," Harper said.
The prime minister also said Wednesday that Canada is considering offering further assistance to the campaign against ISIS after a request from the U.S.
- An earlier version of this story said that in a video, Shirdon makes threats against Iraq's enemies. In fact, he threatens the enemies of ISIS, naming Canada and the U.S.Sep 25, 2014 8:04 PM ET
With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press