ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) recently captured a Canadian Islamic State fighter who they say was the commander of an ISIS unit, adding to the number of foreign extremists from a variety of countries now being detained by the SDF.
The Syrian Kurdish forces said they captured 31-year-old Mohammed Abdullah Mohammed on Jan. 13 in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor.
Under interrogation, the Islamic State fighter allegedly said he was a Canadian citizen of Ethiopian origin, and a former Toronto resident who attended Toronto’s Seneca College, Global News reported.
Although Global Affairs Canada has yet to confirm the identity of the man, a video that the SDF posted online shows the man stating that he is originally from Ethiopia and that he came to Idlib from Canada.
The US-backed Kurdish forces have repeatedly called on governments around the globe to take back their citizens accused of membership in the militant group and prosecute them in their home countries.
The Canadian government has said it is difficult to collect enough evidence to prosecute Canadians who had joined the Islamic State or engaged in other terrorist activities abroad. Some lawmakers, however, have criticized current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government, saying they are responsible for failing to effectively handle the return of Islamic State members.
“Simply put, when Canadians choose to go abroad to join extremist organizations, such as ISIS, they need to know that they will be held accountable for their actions,” Conservative Party MP James Bezan told Kurdistan 24.
“Right now, Trudeau has essentially told all Canadian-ISIS terrorists: it’s okay to do this because his Liberal government won’t try to prosecute you when you come back to Canada.”
Bezan, who serves as the Shadow Minister for National Defense, said his party believes “that those who join terrorist groups and participate in terrorist activities should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”
The MP underlined that Ottawa should use its resources to focus on arresting the returning foreign fighters instead of the current administration’s “misguided attempts at reintegration programs.”
“Our laws have existing tools that can and should be used to restrict the movement and ensure ongoing surveillance of known terrorists,” Bezan added.
He also suggested that “Canadians who have committed acts of terrorism in foreign states should be prosecuted where those crimes were committed.”
The recent arrest brings the number of Canadians known in Syrian Kurdish custody to 14: four men, three women, and seven children.
Editing by John J. Catherine