Calgary brothers left Canada to fight for Islamic State: report
WATCH: As many as 130 Canadians are known to have gone overseas to fight with extremist groups, including two brothers from Calgary. Stuart Greer reports.
TORONTO – Two brothers from Calgary have joined extremist militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS), according to a CBC report.
Gregory and Collin Gordon are relatively recent converts to Islam who lived in the same building where Damian Clairmont and Salman Ashrafi once lived, according to CBC.
Nova Scotia-born, Calgary-raised Clairmont was reportedly killed in January, after converting to Islam and fighting with rebels in Syria. He was reportedly fighting with the al-Qaeda-linked group Jabhat al-Nusra.
Ashrafi was a suicide bomber who killed at least 40 people in a deadly November attack in Iraq. The landlord said both men were qualified tenants who paid their rent on time in the Westview Heights Apartment building in Calgary. Ashrafi also fought with an al-Qaeda-affiliated group.
The Gordon brothers left the Calgary community in 2012, when they’re thought to have moved to Syria, according to CBC. The report said their parents asked for privacy and issued this statement:
“We would like all to know we love and miss our sons dearly. We are deeply concerned for their safety. At this time we refuse to speculate with regards to the end of their story. We continue to keep hope alive.”
WATCH: ISIS propaganda machine lures fighters from abroad
Following the reports, a Calgary imam criticized Canada’s security agencies for failing to deal with the radicalization of young people in the Muslim community. Imam Syed Soharwardy said the government will have to take the blame if some of these recruits are able to return home and stage terrorist attacks on Canadian soil.
Soharwardy, who represents the groups Muslims Against Terrorism and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, said the heads of Canada’s various security agencies should be fired for failing to uphold their responsibilities.
He said his organizations are doing everything they can to highlight the terrorist nature of Islamic groups such as al-Qaeda and IS.
The Canadian government wouldn’t confirm if it’s aware of the Gordon brothers’ connection to IS, but a report released Friday said it’s “aware of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and who were suspected of terrorism-related activities.”
In the 2014 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada, Public Safety Canada also said the government is aware of about 80 people who’ve returned to Canada after traveling abroad “for a variety of suspected terrorism-related purposes.”
“Some may have engaged in paramilitary activities. Others may have studied in extremist schools, raised money or otherwise supported terrorist groups,” said the report. “Some had their travel interrupted by financial issues, injuries or outside intervention and may plan to travel again. Some extremist travellers never achieved their goals and simply returned to Canada.”
WATCH: Two more Calgarians have been identified as foreign fighters who have joined Islamic extremists in the Middle East. As Jayme Doll reports, the local Muslim community is outraged and distancing itself from the pair.
With files from The Canadian Press
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