Toronto 18 member killed fighting in Syria
Published Wednesday, September 25, 2013 6:17PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 25, 2013 11:19PM EDT
A member of the Toronto 18 terror group that planned attacks on Canadian targets nearly a decade ago has died while fighting in Syria, CTV News has confirmed.
Ali Mohamed Dirie served two years in prison for his role in the plot to blow up the Parliament buildings, the Toronto Stock Exchange and other landmarks, assassinate the prime minister and kidnap politicians.
Sources told CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife that Somali-born Dirie was killed fighting alongside Sunni-affiliated al Qaeda rebels in Syria.
Dirie was considered a flight risk and he would have been unable to fly out of Canada, sources said. He was on the no-fly list.
Dirie's death was known within Toronto's Somali community for weeks, according to Mubin Shaikh -- a civilian informant who was recruited by the RCMP to infiltrate the Toronto 18 group and was instrumental in bringing the case against the group.
"His death, his martyrdom, was announced basically by somebody in a mosque saying, 'Ali Dirie has been martyred, please pray for him,'" Shaikh told CTV News.
Dirie was arrested in 2005, before police rounded up other members of the group in 2006. In 2009, he pleaded guilty to his role in the plot and was sentenced to seven years in jail. He spent two years in prison after receiving credit for time served.
During his trial, court heard that he spent his time in custody trying to recruit fellow inmates for terror plots and procure weapons and travel documents.
When he appeared before a parole hearing in 2010, Dirie said he was a changed man, and no longer advocated violence to achieve political goals.
Dirie told National Parole Board officials that although he opposed Canada’s role in the war in Afghanistan, “I don’t intend to bring about change by damaging Canada to make them change their ways.”
Submissions to the Parole Board said otherwise, suggesting he still posed a threat and was not a suitable parole candidate.
Dirie served out his sentence at a Quebec facility for the most violent inmates, and was released in 2011.
A long-term supervision order was not included in his sentence, so Correctional Services Canada was unable to monitor him following his release.
A spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said Wednesday that he could not specifically comment on the reports, but added, "We are acutely aware that some Canadians have travelled abroad to fight in foreign conflicts."
Jean-Christophe de Le Rue said Canadian security agencies are actively examining the threats.
Shaikh described Dirie as a "very angry" man.
"He didn't like non-Muslims whatsoever, especially white people in particular," Shaikh said.
Shaikh said Dirie was "definitely" fighting in Syria alongside other Canadians.
Dirie was born in Somalia and came to Canada at the age of seven. He lived with his mother in Scarborough, an east-end suburb of Toronto.
CSIS is reportedly watching up to 200 Canadians fighting abroad.
With a report from CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife and files from The Canadian Press