A Canadian extremist killed fighting in Syria has surfaced in a posthumous propaganda video designed to draw more Canadians to the conflict.
“Come and join before the doors close,” says the man, who is identified as “Abu Muslim” of Northern Ontario.
The slick, 10-minute video was apparently recorded in Syria before his death in 2013. It is in English and interspersed with footage of the young man running into the firefight that killed him. Portions of it are stamped with the logo of the media arm of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
A version of the video is being released through the SITE Intelligence Group, a Maryland-based organization that keeps tabs on jihadist propaganda.
Early this year, Ottawa intelligence officials publicly estimated that 130 Canadian extremists have joined the overseas conflicts, many of them gravitating to Syria and Iraq. Several Westerners, including Canadians, have reportedly died fighting with ISIL over the past year. The group is seeking reinforcements, circulating propaganda videos to the West as a recruitment tool.
“Before Islam I was like any other regular Canadian. I watched hockey. I went to the cottage in the summertime. I loved to fish.… I was an everyday, regular Canadian before Islam,” says the young man, wearing a goatee and tinted sunglasses.
He speaks of how he made $2,000 a month in Canada as a “street janitor” and converted to Islam more than six years ago. He moved to the Middle East to join the Syrian conflict. He says he got married and was expecting a child.
“It’s not like I was some social outcast. Or some anarchist. Or somebody who just wanted to destroy the world and kill everybody,” he says in the video interview. “… I was a regular person. Mujahadeen [holy warriors] are regular people too.… We have lives outside of our job.”
“Life in Canada was good,” he says. “But at the end of the day, it’s still Dar al Kufr [Land of Disbelief]…”
Footage from a January CBC item about the man is spliced into the propaganda video. The footage shows CBC-generated Canadian court documents that identify him as Andre Richard Omer Poulin of Timmins, Ont. The Globe and Mail has not independently verified his identity.
The final scenes of the video close with footage of the young man running into a firefight, as ISIL rebels vie for control of a military airport in Syria last summer. His crumpled body is shown in the final frames.