RCMP file terrorism charges against man believed to be fighting overseas

RCMP in Alberta have laid terrorism charges against a Calgary man they believe has gone overseas to fight with the Islamic State.

CALGARY — RCMP in Alberta have laid terrorism charges against a Calgary man they believe has gone overseas to fight with the Islamic State.

Police say 22-year-old Farah Mohamed Shirdon has been charged with several offences, including participation in the activity of a terrorist group and instructing others to carry out terrorist activity.

Mounties say the charges are being laid in absentia as it is believed Shirdon is currently overseas.

A Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued and a notice is to be issued shortly via Interpol.

Police say their investigation — part of what they call Project Staccato — determined that Shirdon left Canada on March 14, 2014 to fight with the Islamic State in Syria.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin DeGrand says it’s believed he served in various roles with the organization.

“Our investigation showed that Shirdon served in a combat role and performed other functions for ISIS such as recruiting, fundraising, encouraging others to commit violence, and spreading propaganda — all designed to enhance the activities of the ISIS,” DeGrand said Thursday in a news release.

Shirdon has featured prominently in Western media’s coverage of North Americans going overseas to fight with the militant group.

Last year, the CBC aired a propaganda video of Shirdon burning his Canadian passport and threatening U.S. President Barack Obama.

After, there were reports he had been killed and Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada said he was worried the death would inspire other radicalized youth to go overseas.

Police, however, say they believe the reports of his death were false.

“These charges not only demonstrate that the RCMP is taking active measures to investigate and pursue criminal charges against high-risk travellers, but also serve as a powerful deterrent message to individuals seeking to travel abroad for terrorist purposes and those already engaged in such activity,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said in a statement.