Former Toronto resident Tabirul Hasib, 25, is among 173 ISIS fighters Interpol has named as potential suicide bombers, based on data uncovered by U.S. intelligence.
The Canadian government would not confirm if it was aware of the existence of the Interpol list.
“While we do not comment on national security operations, we can say that the Government of Canada monitors all potential threats and has robust measures in place to address them,” Scott Bardsley, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s press secretary, said on Sunday.
Terrorism researcher Prof. Amarnath Amarasingam, who found the Bangladeshi-Canadian on the list, said Interpol disseminated it because “they are scared of many of these guys sneaking into various countries to launch attacks.”
Amarasingam said most of those named were Iraqis, who would “not really be on the radar of European law enforcement.” But he added that the list also included several Westerners, including Hasib.
The Guardian, which first reported on the list, said it it was disseminated on May 27 and named fighters that “may have been trained to build and position improvised explosive devices in order to cause serious deaths and injuries. It is believed that they can travel internationally, to participate in terrorist activities.”
A note attached to the list said those on it “have been identified through materials found in the hiding places of ISIL,” and added that “it emerges that those subjects may have manifested willingness to commit a suicidal attack or martyrdom to support Islam,” The Guardian reported.
Hasib was part of a group of friends of Bangladeshi and Indian origin who were recruited in Toronto by André Poulin, a Muslim convert originally from Timmins, Ont. who called himself “Abu Muslim.”
In July 2012, Hasib and three others, including one named Malik Abdul, flew to Lebanon to join the fight in Syria but their fathers went after them and convinced them to return to Canada. The incident was not reported to police at the time.
Poulin died in Syria in 2013 and in July 2014, Hasib, Malik Abdul and at least one other recruit flew to Turkey and crossed into Syria at Tal Abyad on July 14, according to leaked ISIS entry records.
Hasib’s ISIS entry form noted he was single, wanted to be a fighter and had previously traveled to Bangladesh and Lebanon. His “Shariah level” was rated as “student.”
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The Interpol list also said Hasib joined ISIS in July, 2014 and that he used the nom de guerre “Abu Bakr Bangladeshi.” It named his mother, and said he lived at the “Battalion Guest Houses.”
Amarasingam, an expert on foreign fighters and a senior research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, said the Canadian friends had joined ISIS with the help of former Mississauga resident Mohammed Ali, an ISIS member in Syria.
During the investigation into the “recruitment and radicalization” of Hasib and his associates, Malik Abdul’s younger brother Kadir Abdul told police that he had remained in contact with Hasib on Facebook, according to court documents obtained by Global News.
Hasib told the brother that the two Canadians he had traveled with, including Malik Abdul, had been killed in November 2014 and early 2015. “Both had died fighting with ISIS,” the court documents said.
Kadir Abdul told police “that Hasib must also be dead due to Russia airstrikes.” But that has never been confirmed.
“As far as I know, two of these Bangladeshis have already been killed in Syria. Tabirul seems to be still alive, but I can’t be sure,” Amarasingam said.
Last April, more than a year after his brother’s reported death in Syria, Kadir Abdul was arrested by Turkish authorities in the city of Adana, not far from the Syrian border.
He was deported to Toronto and arrested by the RCMP at the airport on terrorism allegations. Rather than laying criminal charges against him, the RCMP instead sought a one-year terrorism peace bond against the former Toronto bus shelter cleaner. The peace bond has now expired.
During the investigation into Kadir Abdul, police discovered that while he was sympathetic to Al Qaeda ideologue Anwar Al-Awlaki, he was the legal owner of an AR-15 “assault type rifle,” the court documents said. Asked by a reporter why he owned a restricted firearm, he declined to answer.