The Canadian Jihadist Who Burned His Passport After Joining ISIS Is Alive and Tweeting
A new photo surfacing from his latest Twitter account appears to show Usamah to the left of a fighter and close friend who recently died in combat with the Islamic State.
The same Islamic State militant with Calgary roots who burned his passport in a propaganda video, threatened the White House in an exclusive Skype interview with Shane Smith, and claimed Canada wasn't immune to the same types of attacks appears to be alive and tweeting, spreading fresh messages promoting jihad in Syria and Iraq.
The same online account linked with Farah Mohammed Shirdon—a 22-year-old Calgary native who joined the Islamic State sometime in the last two years and is arguably Canada's most notorious ISIS fighter in Syria and Iraq—reappeared on Twitter only for the social media company to suspend the account yesterday.
The ISIS jihadist who identifies as Abu Usamah online to VICE Canada, said via KIK messaging app that Twitter continues to kick him off of the popular social media platform. The same account I've communicated with is linked to other defunct social media accounts posting images of what appears to be Shirdon in Syria or Iraq, and connected to other known ISIS profiles online.
According to him, Twitter admins booted him "five times" and didn't notify Usamah on why he was suspended. His response: "I'm not too big on Twitter anymore. Don't got the time." At the same time we exchanged messages, Usamah said he monitored my reporting from Russia in early March.
When asked if he was in the so-called Islamic State in Iraq or Syria—in the past he claimed to be in Mosul and Raqqa, respectively—Usamah was evasive, claiming he could be in "Libya."
Whether that's true seems unlikely. While the Islamic State organization is proving to be a growing player in the country once ruled by dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Usamah has often been a playful character online, once telling me in a message that "I'm an actor homie."
I also asked if he was in Syria but
On a Twitter profile linked to his online persona as the "Muhajir Sumalee" (indeed, the same suspended profile promoted his KIK and Surespot messaging profiles), Usamah mentions being in Raqqa—the veritable capital of ISIS in territorial Syria.
While VICE Canada was unable to independently verify Usamah's identity, Canada's respective federal law enforcement and intelligence agency both said they wouldn't talk about him.
And a new photo surfacing from his latest Twitter account appears to show Usamah to the left of a fighter and close friend who recently died in combat with the Islamic State.
It also appears Usamah is keenly aware of online surveillance of infamous Islamic State Twitter habits. In a post, he advises online ISIS-linked Twitter accounts against overshares.
"Don't compromise the life of your brothers in exchange for a few retweets," he wrote in a post attaching the below image. That kind of advice starkly contrasts Islamic State militants who tweeted the live execution of thousands of Shia men in June.
As he has in the past, Usamah is attempting to entice fresh recruits from the West to make Hijra (meaning a "migration" to Syria or Iraq) and fight for the Islamic State, asking potentials in one post "[h]ow many have been speaking about their desire for Hijrah for months but are still sitting idle in Dar al Kufr? Act, dont speak!"
For Islamic State sympathizers at home, Usamah compels them to attack citizens. "How can rat poison be your ticket to Jannah (paradise)?" he says in one Twitter post. "All it takes is to invite your (kafir) neighbors over for BBQ and poison them."
The RCMP declined to comment on the status of Abu Usamah stating in an email that "only in the event that an investigation results in the laying of criminal charges, would the RCMP confirm its investigation, the nature of any charges laid and the identity of the individual(s) involved."
The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS)—the national spy service pegging the number of Canadians fighting in Syria at around 30—similarly declined to comment on Abu Usamah to VICE Canada.
Though the RCMP deferred specifically on whether Shirdon is under investigation, it recently laid terror-related charges against three individuals with Ottawa connections, including John "Yahya" McGuire—who similarly appeared in ISIS video propaganda in the summer—charging him with "facilitating an activity for a terrorist group" along with two other crimes.
Follow Ben Makuch on Twitter.