A Canadian man, who died while fighting for the Islamic State group in northern Syria and later became the face of ISIS recruiting videos, convinced five Toronto men to join him, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Andre Poulin, who was 24 when he died in 2013, joined the fight to overthrow Bashar Assad in 2012 and took the name Abu Muslim al-Kanadi.
Poulin, who had a criminal record, was featured in an 11-minute video aimed at Westerners. He talked about his life in Canada, saying he had money and a good family and "watched hockey." But he referred to Canada as the land of disbelief and said it was not a place that allowed one to "obey Allah fully." He died fighting in Aleppo, leaving behind a wife and young child.
The CBC said four of Poulin's recruits were rescued by their families before they crossed from Lebanon into Syria, but at least three of them have gone back.
One of Poulin's recruits was identified as Abu Turaab of Mississagua, Ontario. He left Canada last April, and experts who monitor Canadian jihadis said they think it was his second tour. CBC said Abu Turaab's father tried to get an imam to convince his son not to leave but Abu Turaab was determined to join ISIS. CBC said Abu Turaab and Poulin had been friends through the online forum Ummah.com since 2009.
â€” Yves Claudé yclaude (@yclaude) January 15, 2015
Abu Turaab used Twitter to praise the attacks last year on Parliament Hill and in Quebec, along with the ISIS beheadings of hostages. Some of his remarks were so extreme, Twitter suspended his account, CBC said. Last July he tweeted some of his friends were in Turkey en route to Syria. CBC identified the friends, all from the same Toronto neighborhood, as Tabrirul Hasib, Abdul Malik and two others whose last names were unknown, Adib and Nur. All four were in their early 20s and Canadian born. Their parents are Bangladeshi immigrants.
The four encountered Poulin in 2011, and he became their religious adviser. The next year the four and Poulin headed for the Middle East. The fathers of Malik and Nur took off after them and convinced the four to return home. Poulin opted to continue his journey.
CBC said some of the parents then hid their sons' passports, but at least three of the men disappeared again in July. CBC said there was no sign of them until November when Hasib contacted his mother. She said he refused to tell her where he was.