ISIS extremist's name means “The Light of Canadians," counter-terrorism expert says
An Ottawa extremist who identified himself in a disturbing video as Abu Anwar al-Canadi was known to former friends as John Maguire, but his new name has a whole other meaning. "Anwar" means "the light" and "al-Canadi" means "the Canadian" according to counter-terrorism expert, Martin Rudner. This morning, Minister of Justice Peter MacKay called the video "chilling" and said it's "another reminder of how vigilant we have to be."
“He’s telling other young people in Canada to “follow the light,” and he’s telling Canadians, “there’s a light shining on you,” said Rudner.
The video issued by ISIS is intended not only as a threat, but as a way to recruit young Canadians, said Rudner.
Maguire dropped out of the University of Ottawa and moved to Syria one year ago and now, he is urging lone wolves in Canada to attack.
“So it should not surprise you when operations by the Muslims are executed where it hurts you the most, on your very own soil,” said Maguire in the video.
The six-minute video was issued on Sunday and in the video, Maguire ridicules the government for its military participation in the international coalition to fight Islamic terrorists.
“You have absolutely no right to live in a state of safety and security when your country is carrying out atrocities on our people.”
“Your people will be indiscriminately targeted as you indiscriminately target our people,” the video continued.
Maguire also said that the attacks in Ottawa and Quebec were a "direct response" to Canada's airstrikes in Iraq.
Liberal MP for Vancouver Centre, Dr. Hedy Fry, described the entire situation as “bizarre” given the fact that the RCMP had tracked Maguire for two years and he still managed to acquire a visa and passport to travel to Syria just one year ago.
“He was allowed to leave the country to travel to Syria and join ISIS and I think the government needs to explain to us why they allowed this person to travel to pursue terrorism,” said Fry.
“It’s not clear what the government is doing. Their ability to answer questions and enforce the law is ridiculous,” she said.
In the video, Maguire speaks in the past tense as he describes his life in Canada.
“I was one of you. I was a typical Canadian. I grew up on the hockey rink and spent my teenage years on stage playing guitar. I had no criminal record, I was a bright student, and maintained a high GPA in university.”
Rudner said that Maguire is trying to portray himself as “the light of Canadians,” in an attempt to recruit people who are well educated, mobile and willing or vulnerable to join the jihad.
“His purpose is to seduce—not only Muslims, but people to convert like he did. He’s telling others, if you don’t agree with me you’re going to be attacked.”
NDP critic for public safety, Randall Garrison, said that one of the very things the NDP has advocated is outreach programs to prevent those who may be inclined to join terrorist groups from joining.
“I understand he had been known to the RCMP and under some kind of surveillance or investigation for two years. But we’re still waiting on the outcome of that,” said Garrison.
The NDP MP said that the broader issue is determining ways to prevent home grown terrorism.
“We’ve advocated ways to counter those type of ideas, and that’s what’s really missing—an outreach from the government to the Muslim community but also to youth who are alienated,” he said.
Minister of Justice Peter MacKay. Photo by Matthew Usherwood
Flanked by reporters in Parliament on Monday, Minister of Justice, Peter MacKay, said that the government has been in a “hurry up offence” for quite sometime in terms of taking steps to protect Canadians.
“This chilling video over the weekend is another reminder of how vigilant we have to be,” MacKay told reporters.