Terror charges laid against three men
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, February 3, 2015 1:30PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 3, 2015 7:05PM EST
The RCMP have laid terror-related charges against three men, including against an Ottawa man whom reports suggested had been killed while fighting with Islamic State militants in Syria.
Police arrested one man in connection with a national security investigation called Project Servant earlier Tuesday. However, the other two men remain at large and police believe they are in the Middle East fighting with ISIS.
Investigators have obtained arrest warrants for these men, police said Tuesday, and a notice will be posted with the international police agency Interpol.
The man who was arrested and remains in custody is Awso Peshdary, 25, of Ottawa. He has been charged with participation in the activity of a terrorist group and with facilitating an activity for a terrorist group.
Charges have also been laid in absentia against Khadar Khalib, 23, and John Maguire, 24.
Khalib is charged with leaving Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group, and counselling a person to participate in an activity of a terrorist group.
Police have charged Maguire with facilitating an activity for a terrorist group.
All three are also charged with conspiring to participate or to contribute in an activity of a terrorist group.
“These charges speak to our ability to tackle a threat that is multifaceted and constantly evolving,” Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, the officer in charge of the RCMP’s Federal Policing Operations, said in a statement.
“Through collaborative efforts with our partners, we were able to disrupt an organized network associated with ISIS. This network was involved in recruiting individuals for terrorism purposes and in sending them into Syria and Iraq for the benefit of this terrorist group.”
Last month, Ottawa confirmed that it was investigating reports that Maguire, who also uses the name Abu Anwar Al-Canadi, was killed in northern Syria while fighting alongside ISIS militants. A pro-ISIS Twitter account reported that Maguire had been killed in the city of Kobani, which has been hammered in recent weeks by coalition airstrikes.
A video posted online last December showed Maguire encouraging attacks on Canadian soil.
On Tuesday, RCMP said despite the reports of Maguire’s death, the force has not seen any credible evidence to confirm that he had died.
Chief Supt. Jennifer Strachan said Maguire travelled to Turkey in December 2012 and is confirmed to be a member of ISIS.
“We continue to work actively with our domestic and international partners to return Khalib and Maguire to Canada so they can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Strachan told reporters at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
‘Active members’ of ISIS
The RCMP launched Project Servant in January 2013, Strachan said. Police allege that Peshdary “aspired” to travel with Maguire, but at first conspired with him to send other Canadians to Syria to join ISIS. Police did not say Tuesday whether the two men did in fact send any Canadians to fight with ISIS and, if so, how many.
Police allege that the two men conspired with Khalib, who travelled to Syria in March 2014 and joined ISIS.
Khalib and Maguire are “active members” of ISIS, Strachan said.
The three accused allegedly posted photos, videos, and comments on social media that suggested they either supported or are active members of ISIS, Strachan said. Investigators also obtained witness statements to support the charges.
Asked if there was any connection to the three young men arrested in Ottawa in early January and charged with terror-related offences, Strachan said a parallel investigation emerged as Project Servant unfolded.
In early January, police arrested and charged Suliman Mohamed, 21, and twin brothers Ashton and Carlos Larmond, with terror-related offences. Police arrested Carlos at Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport as he tried to board a flight to India.
Sources told CTV News at the time that he may have been on his way to Syria. Police confirmed Tuesday that the Larmond brothers and Suliman were acquainted with Peshdary, Khalib and Maguire “by way of social activities.”
Police also on Tuesday acknowledged that Peshdary was arrested in 2010 as part of Project Samosa, but there was not enough evidence to charge him.