A convicted member of Canada's most notorious terror plot has reportedly died while fighting in Syria, underlining the growing reality that Canada is not separate from the rest of the world in the eyes of extremists.
Ali Mohamed Dirie was sentenced to seven years in 2009 for his role in the "Toronto 18" terror plot to kill the prime minister and blow up the Parliament buildings.
CBC News was first to report, via various sources, that Dirie died recently while fighting with an extremist group in Syria.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs told the network that it had no evidence of Canadians who have died in Syria, but a source inside the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has said Dirie was able to leave Canada in 2012, presumably without using his official passport.
This should be a troubling revelation. A key player in Canada's largest and most notorious terrorist plot was not only able to leave prison, but also leave the country without notice.
Dirie was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2009, three years after being arrested in raids against the Islamic extremist cell.
He was given credit for five years of pre-trial custody and was released from prison in 2011. Dirie was considered a vocal proponent of terrorist activity while in custody.
From there, the fresh reports suggest, he left the country despite being considered a flight risk and joined the fight in Syria.
This should be the final straw for those Canadians who somehow see the country separated from the threat and reality of religious extremism. There are people in the world who wish to cause great destruction. Those people include Canadians, and their targets include Canada.
Two recent alleged plots on Canadian soil, one against an Ontario passenger train and one against the British Columbia parliament building, have been linked to al-Qaeda, either through resources or inspiration.
And Canadians have been tied to several of the large international attacks.
Xristos Katsiroubas and Ali Medlej, two young men from London, Ont., were killed after fighting with an al-Qaeda-linked militant group during an attack on an Algerian gas plant.
At least one Canadian was also believed to be among the gunmen in Nairobi's Westgate Mall attack.
[ More Brew: Canadian teen wounded in Nairobi mall terror attack ]
The Toronto Star recently reported that more than 100 Canadians travelled to Syria over the past year, frequently because the country's political and military struggle is seen as a front in global jihad. Dirie, it seems, was among them.
During a parole hearing in 2010, Dirie said he still opposed Canada's involvement in Afghanistan and said he knew he wouldn't leave prison until his sentence was complete.
He told the parole board, according to the Canadian Press, “I don’t have to prove anything to anybody here, I’ll have to prove myself to the public and that’s all that matters in the end.”
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