From Ottawa Citizen
The mother of John Maguire, a former Ottawa resident who was reportedly killed in Syria just a month after calling for attacks in Canada in an ISIL propaganda video, says the public can’t see past his image as a radicalized convert to Islam.
“Nobody gives a damn. They don’t,” said Patricia Earl late Wednesday. “They didn’t know this kid as a child. This is not the kid I raised. I’m going to leave it at that, OK?”
A pro-ISIL Twitter account claimed on Wednesday that Maguire, 24, had died near Kobani, a town on the Turkish border that ISIL has been struggling to capture from Western-backed Kurdish forces.
The online post used his alias, Abu Anwar Al-Canadi, and was accompanied by a photo of Maguire taken from a video in which he accused Canada of “waging war” against Muslims.
There was no official announcement from ISIL and deaths in Syria are almost impossible to verify, but two experts said there were indications the account that posted the “martyrdom” notice was credible.
They noted the Twitter user who posted it, who goes by Abu Saman, had a significant following among ISIL fighters and supporters, many of whom were prominent within the community.
The RCMP was investigating the claim on Wednesday. Last summer, pro-ISIL Twitter accounts had also claimed Farah Shirdon of Calgary had died, but he resurfaced weeks later, saying he was only injured.
CBC News was also reporting Wednesday that three cousins from Edmonton had died fighting for ISIL overseas.
The CBC story quotes Ahmed Hirsi as saying that his son Mahad, 20, was killed late last year, along with cousins Hamsa and Hersi Kariye.
Hundreds of ISIL fighters have been killed in air strikes by the U.S. and its allies around Kobani over the past few months, including many foreign fighters from Western countries.
“Any individual who decides to join the ISIL jihadists runs the risk of meeting their ultimate demise,” said Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney’s spokesman, Jean-Christophe de Le Rue.
He declined to comment on the Maguire case.
A native of Kemptville, Maguire grew up playing hockey and was the bassist in a punk rock band. But after moving to Ottawa, he converted to Islam and changed his name to “Yahya.”
His family was shocked when RCMP officers informed them he had gone to Syria. The government soon cancelled his passport so he could not return home to follow through on his hardline views.
From Syria and Iraq, he posted his violent ideas on a Facebook page that used the ISIL logo as a banner and called on Christians and Jews to either convert to Islam or be killed.
Hammad Raza, a University of Ottawa engineering student who met Maguire in the school’s prayer room in 2012, said the jihadist’s death is sad, but that he followed a “disgusting ideology” and became a violent criminal.
“There are so many innocent people he may have killed before getting killed,” Raza told the Citizen on Wednesday. “It’s really unfortunate that this happened.”
Raza said he feels guilty for not confronting Maguire on his extremism. He said he had offered the newly converted man his knowledge and guidance on Islam during their first meeting in the prayer room.
Raza also invited Maguire to his mosque for worship, but he instead prayed alone and rarely talked to anyone about his extremism.
On Facebook, however, Maguire often expressed his support of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations using the first name Yahya, Raza said.
When Maguire changed his Facebook profile picture to that of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American Muslim who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011, Raza deleted him from his list of friends.
“These people are like walking time bombs,” Raza said. “They can do anything at any time.”
Raza said the Muslim community in Canada has a duty to report any extremist behaviour to the RCMP without delay. The extremists, Raza says, are using their identity, name and religion to carry out violent attacks.
The six-minute video that ISIL released in December was a shocking reality-check for many Canadians, as Maguire threatened them in a familiar accent — a reminder of the dangers posed by radicalization.
In the video, Maguire said Canadians would be indiscriminately targeted and that Muslims were obliged to either join ISIL or “follow the example” of the attackers who struck in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., in October.
“You either pack your bags, or prepare your explosive devices. You either purchase your airline ticket, or you sharpen your knife,” he said. He added that “waging jihad” against the West was “a religious obligation binding upon every Muslim.”
That message has found little support in Canada. Although ISIL has attracted several dozen recruits, as well as young women wanting to become jihadist brides, Canada’s major Muslim organizations have denounced the terror group.
But following deadly attacks in Canada, Australia and Paris, and continued threats, Canadian counter-terrorism officials are closely tracking hundreds of suspects both at home and abroad.
On Friday, the RCMP arrested Ottawa twin brothers, Ashton and Carlos Larmond, both 24, who are allegedly linked to Maguire. A third suspect, Suliman Mohamed, was arrested Monday. All three face terrorism charges.
The Twitter user who claimed Maguire was dead said he had been killed alongside a notorious Dagestani jihadist who appeared this week in an ISIL video in which a child was shown executing two Russians.
It is true that we didn’t know this Maquire as a child but, that is a pretty mute point. We do know him as the young man who thought that fighting with the death merchants ( aka ISIS ) was a great idea! Threatening Canadians and calling other cult members to wage jihad on innocent Canadian citizens was the right thing to do.
No Mrs. Maguire….we don’t care what your son was like as a child…only what he was like as a grown man. There really are no good excuses as to why he became this way. It’s shocking though that you didn’t even know he had gone to Syria…the RCMP had to inform you! Exactly how close were you to your child? Perhaps he’s not the person you thought he was?
Yes….I know that children change as they grow up, but I can’t see how one could change so drastically. Not unless they already possessed such a loathing for other human beings and for life itself.
At least some of Canada’s major muslim groups have openly denounced the terror group.