Three Canadians Involved in Kidnapping US Journalists in Syria

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Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province
Militant Islamist fighters take part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province June 30, 2014.

Jabhat al-Nusra, the militant group in Syria that held US journalists hostages had at least three Canadian members who were involved in the proceedings.

The militant group, which is closely related to al-Qaeda, kidnapped US journalists Matt Schrier and Theo Curtis some time back between 2011 and 2013. According to CBC News, at least three Canadians were involved in the imprisonment of the hostages. They were also involved in a "harsh" interrogation process, which the American journalists had to go through. The identities of the Canadians, however, are yet to be known.

The Canadians, according to reports, forced the US journalists to give their PINs and computer passwords, which eventually robbed them of their money in individual bank accounts. They used the credit cards to buy products from shopping websites like eBay. They reportedly bought computers and electronics online using the credit cards. The Canadian militants, pretending to be the hostages themselves, also sent mails and letters to their families.

The Syrian militant group set Curtis free in August 2014. Schrier, on the other hand, managed to escape in 2013. Neither of the journalists has been able to give details of what exactly happened when they were under captivity as they are still under the recovery process. Meanwhile, those Canadians in the Syrian militant group are apparently moving up the ranking ladder.

According to the Canadian government, around 130 Canadians are presently involved in extremist activities overseas. The 2014 Public Report On the Terrorists Threat to Canada said that at least 80 Canadians, who came back to the country, had travelled with "suspected terrorism-related purposes."

 Most of the Canadians involved in extremist activities are based in Syria, as active members of militant groups. However, the number given by the Stephen Harper government is now believed to be way less than the actual number of Canadians involved in militant activities outside the country. CBC reported that the number should possibly be as high as 300.

Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, who founded the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, warned in August that militant groups such as the Islamic State were in the process of recruiting foreign members. "I am convinced that this recruitment is going on right here in this country, under our noses, in our universities, in our colleges, in the places of worship, in our community," Soharwardy said.

Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@ibtimes.com.au

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