TORONTO — The mother of a Canadian reportedly killed while fighting the Islamic State group in Syria says her son “really, really tried to do the right thing.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Wednesday that John Robert Gallagher was killed in a suicide attack by an ISIS fighter on Wednesday at a farm near Dalhu village in the predominantly Kurdish province of Hassakeh near the border of Iraq.
Valerie Carder told Global News from her home in Wheatley, Ont. that the family is still waiting on an official Canadian government-sanctioned identification before her son’s body can be repatriated back to Canada, which would make his death “more real.”
“He was, very, very intelligent, very stubborn, very passionate about doing what he thought was the right thing to do,” Carder said.
“It wasn’t always necessarily what other people thought was the right thing to do but he had very well-reasoned arguments for doing the things that he did, whatever his perspective was he could argue about why that would be right.”
Carder said she drove with Gallagher to Chicago at the end of April in order for him to make the trip to Syria, after failed attempts through other organizations.
“He was in touch with an organization and I don’t remember the circumstances but things weren’t working out at all and he was frustrated and felt the idea had sort of gone away,” she said.
“But then he did find a way and I wasn’t initially very happy about it because obviously I was worried it was not a safe place to go. And when he was so determined about it, then I sort of, I thought it was more important to support him than be worried about him.”
Carder said news of her son’s death was “overwhelming” as she fought back tears, but thanked the public for having an interest in his life and appreciating the sacrifice he made for his country.
“He was a really good person, just funny and smart and well-read and quick witted,” she said. “He was intending to write about his experiences when he came home.
“There’s so many things that people don’t know and I really appreciate that people are proud of him and are admiring that he had the courage to not just talk a good talk but actually act on his principles because he really, really tried to do the right thing.”
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs said in an email to Global News Thursday that the department was aware of “reports of the death of a Canadian citizen in Syria,” adding that Canadian consular officials were working to gather additional information.