TORONTO (AP) — Canadian police announced details about an alleged Islamic State recruiting cell in Ottawa on Tuesday, saying they arrested one man and charged two men who are overseas — one of whom may be dead.
Police announced they arrested Awso Peshdary, 25, and charged him with participation in the activity of a terrorist group and with facilitating a terrorist group. Police also filed terrorism charges in absentia against Khadar Khalib, 23, and John Maguire, a 24-year-old convert to Islam. Both men had travelled to Syria.
Maguire, who has appeared in a IS video calling for attacks against Canadians, might have been killed recently according to reports.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Jennifer Strachan said Peshdary had wanted to travel with Maguire, stayed in contact with him and together tried to send other Canadians to Syria to join the terror group. Strachan said Khalib travelled to Syria in March, 2014. Police said the men posted photographs and wrote comments on social media that demonstrated they either supported or were active members of IS.
Strachan said despite reports, the RCMP has no evidence that Maguire is deceased. She said a tweet saying he's dead is not confirmation.
She said Peshdary was also the subject of a prior unrelated police terror investigation but said police only now had enough evidence to arrest him. The Associated Press first released details of the arrest and charges against the three men.
The arrest and charges are linked to three arrests last month in Ottawa. Last month, police announced Suliman Mohamed, 21, was charged with participating in a terrorist group. That arrest occurred just days after twin brothers linked to Mohamed, Ashton Carleton Larmond and Carlos Larmond, were charged with terrorism-related offences.
Carlos Larmond was arrested at Montreal's airport on charges of intending to travel overseas for terrorist purposes. A senior government official familiar with the matter said that the brothers were trying to get to Syria. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
"It's a cell in Ottawa. Their focus seems to be on overseas activities, not on carrying out terrorist acts at home," the government official said.
Maguire appeared in a polished propaganda video in December urging Muslims to launch indiscriminate attacks against Canadians, similar to those carried out in October in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.
In October, Canada was hit by two terror attacks by so-called "lone wolves" believed to have been inspired by the Islamic State group. In Ottawa, a gunman shot and killed a soldier at Canada's National War Memorial and then stormed Parliament before being gunned down.
The attack in Ottawa came two days after a man ran over two soldiers in a parking lot in Quebec, killing one and injuring the other before being shot to death by police. The man had been under surveillance by Canadian authorities, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.
Canada is taking part in the U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria.