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Three Canadians Were Charged with Being Part of an Islamic State Cell

Authorities say that the three men, two of whom are believed to have gone to fight in Syria, were part of a terror cell operating out of Ottawa.
February 4, 2015, 5:00am

John "Yahiya" Maguire. Screencap via YouTube video

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

The Canadian jihadist John "Yahiya" Maguire, famous for appearing in an Islamic State recruitment video amid bombed-out wreckage in Syria, is the subject of new criminal charges in Ottawa.

Yesterday the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced fresh charges against three individuals—including Maguire—in connection with a suspected Islamic State terror cell. Officers say this cell is operating in Ottawa and focused on international recruitment efforts.


Two Ottawa natives—Maguire, 24, believed to be dead after various Islamic State–affiliated Twitter accounts said he perished last month, and Khadar Khalib, 23, another suspected fighter—were charged in absentia.

Khalib faces charges of leaving Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group and counseling a person to participate in the activity of a terrorist group, while Maguire was charged with facilitating the activity for a terrorist group.

Awso Peshdary, 26, also from Ottawa, was taken into custody earlier yesterday on charges of participating in the activity of a terrorist group and facilitating an activity for a terrorist group.

A CBC report cites police sources in Ottawa that claim Peshdary radicalized Maguire and paid for his flight abroad, then convinced Khalib to make the same trip in March 2014.

The RCMP says it has issued arrest warrants for both Khalib and Maguire and obtained an Interpol Red Notice for their arrest.

"The RCMP continues to work actively with its domestic and international partners to bring them back to Canada so they can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law," said the RCMP release.

According to the release, the RCMP maintains the Islamic State–affiliated cell was recruiting potential Western fighters and funneling them to brigades in Syria and Iraq "for the benefit of this terrorist group."

"Through collaborative efforts with our partners, we were able to disrupt an organized network associated with ISIS," said Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, the officer in charge of the RCMP's Federal Policing Operations.

This is the third time in as many months that homegrown individuals have been arrested on terror-related charges in Ottawa. The January and December arrests of alleged domestic terrorists also came in the months following a high-profile attack on Parliament.

Those cases similarly involved men in their 20s—twins Ashton and Carlos Larmond and Suliman Mohamed—allegedly looking to fight for the Islamic State in Syria.

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