WATCH: John Maguire appeared in an ISIS propaganda video urging others to state lone wolf terrorist attacks in Canada. His passport was revoked, but the feds won’t say when, and how he became radicalized and why no one noticed remains unexplained. Vassy Kapelos reports.
OTTAWA – Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says the passport belonging to John Maguire, the Canadian featured in an Islamic State video urging attacks against Canadians, was revoked “some time ago.”
But Blaney would not elaborate on whether the passport was revoked before or after Maguire went abroad to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). A spokesman directed a follow-up question to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.
Revocation includes invalidating the actual travel document.
Watch: Canadian who joined ISIS threatens Canada in new video
Blaney made the comments a day after Maguire was seen in a video urging Muslims to launch indiscriminate attacks against Canadians, similar to those carried out in October in Ottawa and Montreal.
Now, a Conservative senator says the threat against Canadians is growing.
Sen. Daniel Lang said Monday there are 318 people who pose a threat to Canadian safety, including some 93 Canadians defined as high-risk travellers and about 145 others abroad fighting with ISIS.
“This list may be much higher when one considers the fact that we do not know all the radicalized individuals in our communities,” Lang said at a Senate committee.
Meanwhile, Blaney said Parliament is currently studying a law to give law enforcement more tools to track people, build evidence and lay charges. He also said the government will come up with more legislation in the near future.
The RCMP refused to comment on Maguire, including whether he was being tracked by the force. But acquaintances confirmed to Global News that the RCMP interviewed them in the late summer.
Maguire grew up in Kemptville, Ont., about 30 minutes south of Ottawa. He moved to Ottawa in 2007 to complete his last year of high school and then enrolled at the University of Ottawa.
In the video, Maguire identifies himself as “Abu Anwar al-Canadi.” He converted to Islam and became radicalized before leaving Canada last year.
He speaks directly to Canadians who follow the Muslim faith, telling them to launch attacks against their fellow Canadians or leave the country.
Abu Anwar is believed to use the Twitter name Yahya Maguire, with postings critical of the fighting in Syria, but has not written on the social media site since October 2012.
A faint picture emerged Monday of 23-year-old Maguire, described by acquaintances as a loner who liked sports and played in rock bands.
“He was kind of a loner, he kind of kept to himself, he had only a few friends,” said Joshua Powell, who attended North Grenville District High School with Maguire for two years.
Powell said Maguire was a good hockey player who “liked to play jokes” on other students.
But nothing seemed to signal where Maguire was headed.
“It just makes you think how much can change,” Powell said.
Adam Gilani, a fellow Muslim, attended the University of Ottawa’s multi-faith space with Maguire.
Gilani said Maguire kept to himself. Another friend said he disappeared without a trace in late 2012. He reportedly travelled to Syria early the next year.
“There was no red flags, nothing very particular that stood out about him,” Gilani said.
Gilani said when he saw the video, he experienced shock, anger and sadness.
“I was angry at why somebody like that, somebody who is well-educated, who can think critically and clearly, was deluded into believing the messaging and the propaganda that’s coming out of groups like ISIS,” said Gilani.
“What made me sad was the message that he was actually putting across to other young Muslims like myself, saying that this is the right thing to do or you have some sort of responsibility to carry out these types of attacks.
“I have no idea where that’s coming from.”
He said he hopes it will inspire his community to look for warning signs and reach out to those who may be looking for a sense of belonging.
“Are there any signs or any conditions that we can identify so that other students who may be vulnerable, or other young people in our community who may be vulnerable, don’t fall into that same trap.”
– with files from The Canadian Press