Another alleged Canadian ISIS member has been captured in northern Syria, according to local Kurdish forces, who posted a video of the man.
In the 40-second video clip, the man identified himself as Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed and said he was an Ethiopian-Canadian.
Kurdish forces said he was arrested by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Deir al-Zour, the last ISIS stronghold in Syria.
“I am originally from Ethiopia, I came from Canada, entered from Idlib,” he said in the video.
“And you went with the comrades at the checkpoint?” he was asked.
“Sorry,” he replied.
“You went in combat with our youths?” the interrogator asked.
“Yes,” he said.
According to Canadian terrorism researcher Prof. Amarnath Amarasingam, Mohammed studied at Toronto’s Seneca College before departing for Syria in 2013.
With his capture, the number of Canadians known to be in the custody of Kurdish forces is now four men, three women and seven children.
But an organization representing the families of Canadian captives, Families Against Violent Extremism, said it was aware of almost two dozen.
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“The families of 21 Canadian detainees have asked FAVE to help get them out of the northern Syrian camps. The majority of these Canadians are infants and children who are suffering from hunger and illness in frozen tents,” said group’s director, Prof. Alexandra Bain.
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Global News revealed last October that Kurdish fighters had captured several Canadians affiliated with ISIS, including a former member of a sniper unit.
MPs responded by passing a motion calling on the government to table a strategy for bringing ISIS members to justice.
In December, the government released a report outlining the difficulties involved in collecting enough evidence to prosecute Canadians who had taken part in terrorist activity abroad.
“Investigating, arresting, charging and prosecuting any Canadian involved in terrorism or violent extremism is the government’s main objective and priority,” the six-page report said.
“However, there are often challenges associated with the collection of evidence and the use of intelligence and sensitive information as courtroom evidence, particularly when alleged criminal offences took place on a battlefield abroad.”
About half the estimated 190 Canadians who have left to take part in terrorist activity went to the Syria-Iraq-Turkey region. Another 60 have returned, but few of them had been ISIS fighters.
Only four of those who left Canada for Syria and returned have been charged. Two were convicted and two are awaiting trial.
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Kurdish forces have been appealing to governments to take back their citizens, who are being held in makeshift prisons and camps in northeast Syria.
But Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has said the government was under no legal obligation to facilitate the return of the Canadians captured in Syria because Canada did not participate in their detention.
A 2017 briefing note for Goodale, however, said Canadians had the constitutional “right to enter” the country. “Therefore, even if a Canadian engaged in terrorist activity abroad, the government of Canada must facilitate their return to Canada,” it said.