According to government estimates, approximately 180 people are believed to have travelled from Canada to fight for the Islamist extremist group ISIS. Of the total, 60 terrorists have been allowed to freely enter back into the country, while the remaining are detained or still abroad fighting with terrorist groups.
Currently, the Canadian government is allegedly keeping a list of these terrorists and tracking their whereabouts. Very few charges, however, have been laid despite one man having admitted to carrying out executions and others having been involved in heinous crimes.
The Liberal government has been silent on how they intend to deal with returning extremist fighters. Former Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale stated that only four charges have been laid, two of which are still before the courts. The Conservative opposition has pushed for the government to take more action in prosecuting these terrorists.
Despite the fact that dozens of ISIS members are currently roaming freely within our country, very few of them have been publicly identified or named.
One report by Barbara Kay for the National Post explained how a Yazidi woman who was subjected to sexual slavery in Syria identified her unnamed ISIS captor on public transit in London, Ontario. The woman approached government officials, but they dismissed her claims and even told her to not tell others about the encounter.
The following is a list of individuals who have been identified publicly for having left to fight for ISIS abroad.
ISIS members who have returned to Canada:
Abu Huzaifa Al Kanadi is the pseudonym of a man currently living freely in Toronto. Huzaifa admitted on the New York Times podcast Caliphate that he tortured one man and executed and murdered two others. Despite repeatedly lying to Canadian authorities, no charges have been brought against the man who is now attending a Canadian university without any consequences.
Huzaifa claims to have travelled to Syria in 2014, when he was 17, after emptying his Canadian bank account. While there he allegedly shot one man in the back of the head and referred to the ISIS prisoners as “animals”. Huzaifa also admitted to stabbing another man in the heart and crucifying him.
Pamir Hakimzadah travelled to Turkey in 2014 in an effort to join ISIS. He travelled around Istanbul alone for four days later until a taxi driver turned him over to the police after he suspected Hakimzadah of trying to join ISIS.
Hakimzadah was banned from Turkey for one year and, in mid-November of 2014, Turkish authorities deported him to Canada.
But that didn’t stop this wannabe ISIS fighter. Nor did it raise any red flags for Canadian officials.
Once he was back in Toronto, Hakimzadah told his family he would try to go back to Syria. According to allegations presented in his bail hearing, he is quoted saying he would be “fulfilling the wishes of God to kill non-Muslims.”
As he boarded a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul on June 27, 2016, he was arrested.
The RCMP initially charged him with assault, but later charged him with leaving Canada to participate in terrorism.
He was admitted to a maximum-security prison in Penetanguishene, ON, in April 2019 but was released back into the public just two months later. Hakimzadah is now on probation and required to undergo “de-radicalization counselling.”
ISIS members who are being held abroad:
Mohammad Ali, otherwise known as “Abu Turaab,” is a 28-year-old former Mississauga resident who is currently being detained in Syria for being an ISIS fighter and propagandist. Ali, who was a student at Ryerson University, travelled to Syria in 2014 where he used social media to encourage others to join the terrorist group and encouraged sympathizers to commit terror attacks in the West.
In his posts, Ali spoke about how he played soccer with severed heads and claimed that homosexuals and non-Muslims “should be killed.” He also posted several masked photographs of himself with weapons and other ISIS fighters holding severed heads while serving as a fighter for the group.
Since being captured, Ali has been pleading with authorities to be allowed back into the country, claiming that he had broken no Canadian laws. He has claimed to be “disenchanted” with ISIS and says he has “learned his lesson.”
Jack Letts, otherwise known as “Jihadi Jack,” is a 24-year-old U.K. resident who is also a Canadian citizen through his father. He is believed to have travelled to Syria in 2014 where he joined ISIS. Letts’ parents have also been found guilty of funding terrorism for sending him money when they were aware that he was a member of the terror group.
In 2015 Letts posted a picture of himself doing the one-finger salute, a common signal used by ISIS members. Letts was captured by Kurdish forces in the Battle of Raqqa while seeking to escape. In 2019, the U.K. government stripped Letts of his citizenship. Jack and his parents have since been trying to convince the Canadian government to allow him into the country.
Mohammad Khalifa, also known as “Mohammad Abdullah Mohammed,” is a former Toronto resident and Seneca College student who commanded several fighters for ISIS. He was born in Saudi Arabia and immigrated to Canada in 1983. Khalifa allegedly joined ISIS in 2013 where he eventually oversaw 17 fighters for the terror group. He was eventually captured earlier this year while still armed with an AK-47 and a pistol.
Khalifa has also admitted to narrating ISIS propaganda videos including mass executions. Currently there are no charges being brought against Khalifa despite his participating in terrorism. He has also said in interviews that suicide bombings are “acceptable” and that he sees “an obligation to keep fighting.”