The RCMP have arrested an Ottawa man and is seeking two accomplices in Syria, bringing the number of national-capital residents who face terrorism-related charges for alleged links to Islamic State to six.
The Mounties arrested Awso Peshdary, 25, and issued an arrest warrant on Interpol for the arrest of Khadar Khalib and John Maguire. However, police acknowledged reports on social media that Mr. Maguire may have recently been killed in Syria.
At a news conference, RCMP officials said the three had ties with each other and three other Ottawa residents who were charged with terrorism-related offences last month, twin brothers Ashton and Carlos Larmond and Suliman Mohamed.
All of them are from Ottawa, are in their early to mid-20s and are alleged to have expressed clear support for IS forces in Syria and Iraq. Mr. Khalib and Mr. Maguire have travelled abroad to join IS, while Carlos Larmond was arrested last month at the airport in Montreal, allegedly on his way to the war zone.
The RCMP said Mr. Peshdary had planned to travel to Syria, and helped finance trips for other Canadians.
"Awso Peshdary provided financial support to facilitate travel to Syria to join IS," RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said.
He said there was "never any immediate threat to the public" in this case, but added "there are individuals in Canada who have become radicalized to violence and are willing to act upon it."
The federal government has introduced new anti-terrorism legislation that will beef up the powers of Canada's security agencies, making pre-emptive arrest easier and allowing spies to "disrupt" potential terrorist plots. Assistant Commissioner Malizia refused to say whether the new legislation would have helped this investigation.
Chief Superintendent Jennifer Strachan said the RCMP were investigating Mr. Peshdary, Mr. Maguire and Mr. Khalib when officers noticed the activities of the Larmond twins.
"These are complex investigations, they involve multiple people that come in and out of the networks," she said, adding that the charged individuals "knew one another."
Chief-Supt. Strachan said the RCMP need additional information to determine whether Mr. Maguire is still alive. "In our minds, a tweet is not the kind of evidence we would be looking for," she said. "That is why we have laid the charges in abstentia."
She added that Mr. Peshdary and Mr. Maguire were "involved in radicalization, namely by way of social media," adding RCMP are still looking into other members of the networks.
"It's quite likely there could be spinoff investigations," Chief-Supt. Strachan said.
Mr. Peshdary, originally from Iraq, was under police surveillance for months as part of the RCMP's Project Samossa. While police failed to make a terrorism case against him, they laid criminal charges of domestic assault and uttering threats in 2010. He was acquitted in 2011.
Islamic State was listed as a terrorist entity in the Criminal Code in 2014. Mr. Peshdary faces charges of participation in the activity of a terrorist group and facilitating an activity for a terrorist group. Mr. Maguire and Mr. Khalib are charged with conspiring to participate or contribute to an activity of a terrorist group, among other charges.