OTTAWA — Police have laid terror charges against three Ottawa men, two of whom are believed to be in the Middle East and fighting on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Awso Peshdary, 25, is the only one of the three who is in custody in Ottawa, police say; he is facing charges of participating in, conspiring to participate in and facilitating the activity of a terrorist group.
Also charged is John Maguire, 24, who rose to notoriety last year when he appeared in an extremist recruiting video that urged Muslims to launch attacks against Canadians.
Recent media reports have indicated Maguire may have already been killed in battle, but police say they lack any “conclusive evidence confirming that he is deceased.”
Maguire is charged with facilitating an activity for a terrorist group and conspiring to participate or to contribute in an activity of a terrorist group.
Khadar Khalib, 23, who is also believed to be overseas, is charged with leaving Canada to participate in, counselling a person to participate in and conspiring to participate or to contribute in an activity of a terrorist group.
“These charges speak to our ability to tackle a threat that is multifaceted and constantly evolving,” assistant RCMP commissioner James Malizia said in a statement.
“Through collaborative efforts with our partners, we were able to disrupt an organized network associated with (ISIL). This network was involved in recruiting individuals for terrorism purposes and in sending them into Syria and Iraq for the benefit of this terrorist group.”
Justice Minister Peter MacKay would not comment on the specifics of the case, but said coming amendments to the Criminal Code will help police in such circumstances.
He rejected suggestions that the latest charges show police already have sufficient powers to combat terrorists and their sympathizers.
“It depends on the circumstances in every case,” he said. “Every case is different.”
New Democrat MP Jack Harris said police clearly don’t need new powers.
“These and other examples show that we already have tools that are effective in arresting and dealing with people who are about to commit terrorism or are engaged in counselling others to do so or travelling to third countries in order to commit terrorist acts,” Harris said.