The English voice of the Islamic State steps out of the shadows. He’s a Canadian, another one of your peaceful and loving Muslim neighbors. This is the “new generation” of Muslims.
Canadian Jihadist Unmasked
Abu Turaab has been tweeting his deadly ideology since he joined ISIS. The Post has learned his real name is Mohammed Ali
By Stewart Bell
‘You’ll never kill the love for jihad’
MISSISSAUGA, ONT. Adept at using social media and fluent in English, Abu Turaab is part of the new generation of jihadists who have stormed the Internet to spread the dark message of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham. On Twitter, he cheerleads ISIS atrocities, quotes terrorists like Anwar Al-Awlaki and tries to coax others into joining him in Syria. He eulogizes dead jihadists and mocks U.S. troops as “criminals and high school dropouts.”
“Can’t wait for the day IS [as he calls ISIS] beheads the first American soldier. Soccer anyone?” he wrote in August. After ISIS beheaded American journalist James Foley, he added, “I guess it’s time to play soccer boys :)”
Mohammed Ali posted this photo of a gun. (Abu Turaab / Twitter)
Media outlets ranging from The New York Times to the Daily Mail and Vice.com have quoted his missives, and the U.S. State Department recently singled him out as part of its Think Again Turn Away campaign to disrupt terrorist recruiting.
While he has been careful not to reveal his real identity, posting only photos of himself wearing ski goggles or with a scarf covering his face, the National Post has learned he is a 23-year-old Canadian citizen named Mohammed Ali.
The former resident of Mississauga left the country in April, telling his parents he was flying to Turkey for a tour. He said he’d be gone two weeks but after arriving in Istanbul, he crossed the border into northern Syria.
His Twitter page now says he is in the “Islamic State,” the name ISIS calls the areas it roams. He is the first suspected ISIS member from the Toronto area to be publicly identified so far. He did not respond to requests for comment.
The news of yet another Canadian’s alleged involvement in ISIS comes as Western and Arab allies are mobilizing against the terrorist group, which has capitalized on the security vacuum in Syria and Iraq to carve out a safe haven.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird told reporters on Monday that Canada was delivering small arms and munitions to anti-ISIS forces, had sent military advisors and would contribute $5-million to stop the flow of foreign fighters to the region.
Asked if he was troubled that Canadians had joined ISIS, he replied: “Absolutely, we’re all horrified. And you know, when you have a thousand fighters from Europe, potentially a few hundred from North America, obviously we’re all horrified by that and we want to do more to tackle it.”
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said in a weekend interview with Global News that police and judges already had the authority to strip passports from anyone attempting to leave Canada for terrorists purposes. “We are responsible when the Canadian is committing terrorism act abroad. We have to prevent this from happening.”
Last week, President Barack Obama outlined a strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS. Prime Minister David Cameron was also marshaling against the group after it released a video of the beheading of British aid worker David Haines.
We are responsible when the Canadian is committing terrorism act abroad. We have to prevent this from happening.
— Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney
Mohammed Ali posted this photo of “Abu Dujana.” It was taken in Dier Ezzor, Syria’s sixth largest city. (Abu Turaab / Twitter)
Mr. Ali’s response to the threat of an anti-ISIS military operation has been, in effect, bring it on. “You’ll never kill the desire, nor the love the believers have for jihad and fighting to raise the word of Allah the highest,” he wrote last month. “And that is why you will fail time and time again.”
Two months after leaving Canada on April 17, Mr. Ali posted his first video on YouTube from Raqqah, the ISIS stronghold in northern Syria. On July 10, he posted videos of Iraqi military vehicles, and the next day he put up footage shot from a truck crossing the desert.
“I traded the snow for the desert sand,” he wrote in a July 18 exchange with the National Post, in which he justified ISIS’s treatment of Iraqi Christians, whom the terror group had ordered to convert to Islam or submit to extortion. He said it was better than “paying taxes to Harper.”
He then offered his view of Canada. “You’re [sic] education system is a failure. $50,000 for a four year course? And then you’ll be stuck paying it off and that’s if you find a job. Health care? Lol. Nuff said. And Rob Ford? The dude is still alive? I though [sic] he would has [sic] overdosed on cocaine.”
Mohammed Ali tweets about jihad and posts photos of the sunrise. After he shared pictures of militants holding severed heads, Twitter suspended his account but he resurfaced last month. (Abu Turaab / Twitter)
He claimed he had been making a good salary in the Western oil fields before traveling to Syria. He said his goal was not only to impose his militant strain of religion on Iraqis and Syrians, but “over everybody inshallah [God Willing].” Recently, he posted a poem that read: “Roses are red, violets are blue, IS is coming, to a town near you.”
Mohammed Ali posted this photo of a gun to his Twitter account
Posted on Mohammed Ali’s Twitter feed.
Amarnath Amarasingam, a postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University’s Resilience Research Centre, said he had been following Abu Turaab on Twitter and had noted his emphasis on denouncing those he calls “hypocrites.”
To jihadists, hypocrites are Muslims they see as having sold out by compromising their faith to fit into Western society, said Mr. Amarasingam, who is part of a project team that has been researching Canadian foreign fighters in Syria.
“This belief and rhetoric is quite prevalent amongst most of the Canadian youth who have left to fight in Iraq and Syria — the idea that living in Canada forces Muslims to sacrifice a part of themselves. The vast majority of Muslims don’t agree with this of course, but it is a key characteristic of the foreign fighter mindset.”
After he posted photos of ISIS fighters holding severed heads, Twitter suspended Mr. Ali’s account but he resurfaced last month under a slightly different name. His posts around the time of the murder of Mr. Foley were particularly disturbing and included photos of a child re-enacting the beheading on a doll.
“I wonder how my homie @StewartBellNP feels after watching the latest IS video? ;)” he wrote on the day of Mr. Foley’s execution. He also condemned Muslims who deplored the journalist’s murder. “Seeing these so called Muslims’ [sic] send condolences to James Foley’s family is disgusting. No dignity whatsoever,” he wrote.
The RCMP declined to comment on Mr. Ali. A report released by the government last month said about 30 Canadians were fighting with extremist groups in Syria and another 130 were active in other regions. Those who return home “could plan and carry out terrorist attacks in Canada,” it said.
The police force has been working on a program to fight violent extremism, in part by having community members and local police intervene when youths are becoming radicalized. It is expected to launch by the end of the year.
In August, Mr. Ali wrote that he had “never felt more alive” since arriving in Syria. He has tweeted about marrying and although he once used the alias Abu Turaab Al Kanadi, (“The Canadian” in Arabic), he has since dropped that title. Asked on Twitter if he was Canadian, he replied: “not anymore.”
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