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Former Canadian sniper says he consulted with military colleagues before releasing video of 'kill shot'

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A former Canadian sniper has triggered a cross-border battle over press freedom, after providing classified information to an American podcaster.

Dallas Alexander, a former member of the elite JTF2 unit who is now an aspiring country music singer, released never-before-seen video of a record-setting ‘kill shot’ during an appearance on the Shawn Ryan Show. The Feb. 3 podcast showed a team of four Canadian snipers taking out an ISIS fighter during a 2017 operation in Mosul, Iraq.

The shot broke the record for a confirmed kill at a distance of more than 3.5 kilometres, or 3,540 metres. The video shows the moment the ISIS fighter was killed and the loud congratulatory cheers of the soldiers, as well as the room where they set up.

As first reported by The Ottawa Citizen, the military has launched an investigation into the video’s unauthorized release and sent a “cease and desist” letter to the podcaster.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) is demanding not just the removal of the JTF2 video, but also that the two episodes which feature Alexander be removed.

In a letter to Shawn Ryan on Feb. 10, a legal adviser with the Canadian Special Forces Command says the podcast contains classified, or sensitive, information, that its public release is “injurious to Canadian national security, national defence and international relations,” and that its unauthorized use amounts to “copyright infringement.”

The letter goes on to say that the CAF and the Department of National Defence (DND) are willing to work with the podcast to publish versions that aren’t in breach of intellectual property rules and help with “necessary measures to delete or destroy any classified information.”

Lt.-Cmdr. Jordan Holder, spokesperson for the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, says that Alexander did not consult with his superiors in his chain of command.

Holder says the force does not know how Alexander obtained some of the unauthorized material he released and that the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is probing the matter.

AMERICAN PODCAST NOT SUBJECT TO CANADIAN LAWS

 

In a phone interview with CTV News, Alexander said he was a member of JTF2 for 14 years. He clarified that he did not take the “kill shot” but said that he consulted with “numerous” military members before making the video public. He says he also consulted with the three other snipers, who were with him in Iraq.

Alexander said before being released from the force he also reached out to the chain of command at the Department of National Defence to tell them that he wanted to use the photos and videos he acquired in his time with the elite unit on his social media platforms.

“I told them I would vet every single post, blur something, change the word. I was told that a public affairs officer would reach out to me - but no one did,” said Alexander, 39, from near Jasper, Alta., where he is on a ski holiday.

“So to me it seemed like they didn’t care,” said the ex-sniper whose career with the Canadian Forces spanned approximately 17 years.

Shawn Ryan produces his podcast from Franklin, Tennessee and says Alexander approached him about appearing on the show to talk about the operation.

A former U.S. navy seal and CIA contractor, Ryan says he’s sensitive to national security concerns. He has voluntarily removed part one of his interview where Alexander discusses the sniper video and operational details. Ryan says he doesn’t want to “jeopardize the safety of operators in the (JTF2) unit.” But Ryan does intend to re-post portions of the interview along with video of the kill shot once he gets the go-ahead from his lawyer.

Ryan doesn’t understand why DND considers the video “classified.”

“They did a press release, while the JTF2 still had operators in the exact same sniper hide(away) that they took the shot from,” says Ryan, pointing out that in July 2017 the Canadian military boasted about the incident in media interviews.

“Just to brag about the world’s longest sniper shot --- they should have waited until those operators had been extracted from the site. If it’s classified it doesn’t make sense to me.”

Lawyer Timothy Parlatore says that his client Ryan has done nothing wrong and that while he’s unfamiliar with Canadian laws regarding classified information, American citizens operating in the United States are only subject to U.S. laws.

“What (the podcast) is doing is absolutely permissible. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled on this back with the Pentagon Papers related to the Vietnam War - that the government can't try to censor journalists or private podcasters like Sean based on any claims of so-called classifications,” said Parlatore, who calls the demands by the CAF “an overreach.”

Alexander told CTV News that he believes DND is launching an investigation into the video as a way to censor what he has to say about how the military treated him. That’s what he talks about in part two of his appearance on the Shawn Ryan Show.

As a member of JTF2, Alexander was based in Ottawa, and trained at a special site in the city’s west end. Alexander told Ryan that around 2019 he was starting to get frustrated with the direction of “where we were headed.”

At the time the CAF was and is still dealing with allegations of sexual misconduct within its ranks. The federal public service as a whole was also trying to adopt principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“From every category of wokeness there was a sensitivity course that came along with it,” Alexander said in the podcast. He identifies as Metis.

“Do I think people need to be nicer? Yes. But do I think it needs to be taking away from my range time because you have an agenda? No.”

Alexander said he was forced out of the military because of his unwillingness to be vaccinated and refusal to wear a mask during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the DND told CTVNews.ca on Friday in an emailed statement that he was not released due to the vaccine mandate. 

In the YouTube video he describes several incidents in which he flouted masking requirements in place at the time across the federal public service.

“I’m getting in administrative trouble because I’m not playing the mask charade,” said Alexander on the podcast. He said he tried to get both a religious and a medical exemption from taking the vaccine but was denied.

In one incident which could be construed as insubordination, Alexander describes how his superior, a sergeant-major, asked him to put on a mask before a meeting about his vaccine exemption request.

“I could have put it on, but the principle behind this nonsense…It was just a joke and (I said) I’m not doing it.” Alexander then said things escalated with his commanding officer.

“I was escorted out and that was the last time I got access to getting on camp. My pass never worked again,” said Alexander in a phone interview.

He said he was charged by the military following the incident.

SNIPER SUPPORTED ‘FREEDOM CONVOY’

Alexander also told CTV News that he was one of two JTF2 officers who were investigated for their involvement in the Freedom Convoy.

“I didn’t drive a truck down there. I didn’t illegally park anywhere. I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but I do support freedom of choice.”

The Department of National Defence did not provide details about the circumstances by which Alexander was released from the Canadian Forces.

In a statement to CTV News Thursday, DND said a total of 13 active members of the Canadian Forces were investigated for their involvement with the convoy. Of those members, four soldiers were charged under Section 129 of the National Defence Act, which holds military members to “good order and discipline.”

Since his release from the Canadian Forces last April, Alexander has been trying to reinvent himself as a country music singer. His Instagram and Facebook profiles are full of photos of his time with JTF2, along with videos of him singing.

One post features a song by Willie Nelson over footage of the Freedom Convoy and the hashtags #TrudeauMustGo and #Freedom.

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