Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Friday that Canada will “monitor” the case of an ISIS fighter caught in Syria last weekend amid speculation he may be a Canadian who narrated execution videos.
Asked what the government was doing about the captured fighter, who said in a video he had gone to Syria from Canada in 2013, Goodale provided no details about the involvement of Canadian authorities.
“Well, he’s not in Canadian custody at this time. He’s, as we understand it, in the custody of the Kurds, and we have no agreement with them,” the minister told reporters in Ottawa.
“We will obviously monitor this situation, as we do all of these, very carefully to make sure that we’ve got the facts, we’ve got full knowledge of what is transpiring and that we are taking all appropriate steps to keep Canadians safe and secure.”
“And from a legal perspective, we will be working on evidence to build the case where we can lay charges and prosecute.”
WATCH: Alleged Canadian ISIS fighter talks about his capture in video released by Syrian Democratic Forces
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Sunday they had captured an ISIS fighter who identified himself as Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed, a Canadian of Ethiopian origin.
He surrendered to Kurdish fighters in Deir al-Zour after attacking a military position and was armed with an AK-47 and a handgun. In a video, he admitted to joining ISIS.
But this week, terrorism researcher and professor Amarnath Amarasingam identified him as “Abu Ridwan Al Kanadi,” the voice of ISIS English-language propaganda, including execution videos.
A longtime friend told the researcher they were one and the same, and the captured fighter’s voice is remarkably similar to the one heard in countless ISIS claims of responsibility and threats.
The RCMP “at this point in time cannot confirm or deny an investigation,” said a spokesperson, Cpl. Caroline Duval. Global Affairs Canada has not responded to questions about the case.
Canadian police have struggled to build cases against foreign terrorist fighters, largely due to the challenges of collecting evidence in conflict zones that will stand up in courts.
Goodale acknowledged “the process is difficult, as you can imagine, because you’re dealing with a war, one half a world away,” but said Canada was co-operating with allies in collecting evidence, and prosecution remained the priority.
“Our objective, obviously, with individuals who have abandoned Canadian democracy to travel halfway around the world to associate themselves directly or indirectly with terrorism, our objective is to collect the evidence to lay charges and to prosecute to the full extent of the law,” he said.
“And that is the approach we will take in dealing with an individual like this.”