Ottawa man in extremist video had passport revoked 'some time ago'
Ottawa man John Maguire, who allegedly left Canada to join ISIS in Syria, has reportedly been killed. Maguire, who joined the terrorist organization under the name Abu Anwar al-Canadi, was reported dead on Twitter by Abu Saman, a member of ISIS. Saman alleged that Maguire had been “martyred” along with another fighter. Screen capture from Internet Archives.
OTTAWA - The homegrown jihadist who appeared in a video Sunday calling for attacks on Canadian soil had his passport revoked "some time ago," Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said Monday.
Blaney was unable to explain how John Maguire, 23, travelled to Syria in January 2013 to join the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group.
In the video, Maguire, who goes by Abu Anwar al-Canadi, berates Canada for joining the military coalition against ISIS and urges like-minded individuals to carry out attacks against Canadians on Canadian soil.
He describes himself as having grown up playing hockey, then tries to justify the recent killings of two Armed Forces members, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., southeast of Montreal, and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
"Your people will be indiscriminately targeted, as you indiscriminately target our people," Maguire says.
Blaney said the threat level hasn't been raised because of the video.
Terrorism expert and former CSIS intelligence officer Michel Juneau-Katsuya says propaganda videos serve several purposes and should be taken seriously.
"ISIS has been very efficient at recruiting people and reaching out to young people who feel disenfranchised," he told QMI Agency, adding Maguire's video is rehearsed, polished and has relatively high production values. "That might appeal to young people."
Maguire makes specific reference to having played hockey as a young kid to portray himself as an average Canadian, Juneau-Katsuya said.
"He wants to say he's a normal kid, but there's nothing normal about him," he said. "Someone who lets themselves be seduced by this ideology, I mean, they're aware of the murder, mutilation, rapes that (ISIS is committing), this is not someone who goes (overseas) simply for a different political point of view."
The videos are also intended to inspire, Juneau-Katsuya said. The attacks against Vincent and Cirillo were committed by individuals who had no direct connection to or support from ISIS.
"But in the videos in September, (the terrorists) said to use your car, your gun, your knife, and that's exactly what happened in the Ottawa and (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu) attacks," he said.
The propaganda videos also try to convince as many Canadians as possible they've lost their sense of security in their communities.
Maguire is a former Ottawa university student who was active in the Muslim Students Association but isolated from members, a former president of the group says.
"My reaction is one of shock and surprise and on top of that anger and sadness all at once," said Adam Gilani, president of the association in 2011-12, when Maguire was on campus.
It is believed Maguire converted to Islam sometime between high school and university and had a "superficial" relationship with other Muslims.
Tthere were no "overt signs" of Maguire's radical views, Gilani said.
Maguire wasn't involved in the congregations of Ottawa's dozen mosques, but he was on the radar of local Muslims because of his social media posts, said Omar Mahfoudhi, director of the Islam Care Centre.
"He wasn't somebody who came out to events," Mahfoudhi said.
With files from Corey Larocque