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New Signs of Canadian IS Jihadist Emerge Online as Interpol Adds Him to Wanted List

Farah Mohammed Shirdon, a Calgary native, is wanted by Canadian authorities on six charges including leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group and instructing a person to carry out an activity for a terrorist group.

by Ben Makuch
Nov 19 2015, 6:30pm

An alleged Canadian jihadist known for burning his passport in an infamous Islamic State (IS) propaganda video was recently added to INTERPOL's wanted list, with new evidence emerging that he could be alive and active online.

Farah Mohammed Shirdon, 22, a Calgary native the RCMP accused of traveling to Syria in March 2014 to join the Islamic State, is wanted by Canadian authorities on six charges including leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group and instructing a person to carry out an activity for a terrorist group.

The National Post first reported the news of Shirdon's addition to the international policing agency's wanted list, which comes only days after the Paris attacks involving homegrown French and Belgian terrorist actors allegedly commissioned by IS.

Shirdon — a prolific IS propagandist — has used the KIK messaging app since at least early 2014 under the alias 'Abu Usamah.' During that time he has exchanged numerous messages with VICE News about his activities fighting with the Islamic State.

The last substantive text exchange between the Abu Usamah profile and this reporter came in spring 2015. Then he went dark.

But, as recently as November, messages sent to Shirdon's alleged profile — the same profile used as a point of contact in previous interviews along with the device he uses to engage on the platform — have generated "delivered" confirmations, in the form of a faded "D".

According to the app's website, the faded "D" indicates the user is running the platform on "iPhones and Windows Phones", but "they haven't opened the app to receive the message on their phones."  

In other words, the messages were received from servers onto the mobile phone. Earlier messages in 2015 appeared to be read while others were not, much like how Facebook messenger operates its read notifications. 

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Farah Mohammed Shirdon's Interpol wanted profile.

VICE News cannot independently verify Shirdon's alleged phone and messaging profile is not being used by someone else.

When reached for comment following the Paris attacks his Abu Usamah profile reverted back to "Oops it looks like Abu's phone has been off/disconnected for a while. We'll deliver your messages when they connect again."

In the summer of 2014, news broke that Shirdon had died in an IS operation, only for him to resurface online weeks later. Since that time, his messaging profile has had a similar pattern of disappearing and reappearing online, with the same "Oops" notification being prompted in between conversations as it did following the tragic events in France.

Shirdon was also interviewed in September 2014 by VICE CEO and founder Shane Smith in an exclusive Skype meeting where he made threats against the United States for its bombing campaign against IS.

Then, in October of last year, weeks before the tragic Parliament Hill shooting in Ottawa, Shirdon said in an exchange with VICE News that "Canadians at home shall face the brunt of the retaliation," just as Canadian CF-18s began bombing IS. "If you are in this crusader alliance against Islam and Muslims you shall see your streets filled with blood Inshaa Allah."

Related: VICE News Battles Canadian Police Over Right to Protect Journalist's Material

VICE News is currently fighting a court battle with the RCMP over the national police agency's attempts to obtain "any notes and all records of communications" between this reporter and Shirdon.

Only one other known Canadian fighter is active online and in recent contact with VICE News — the chat profile connected to Mohammed Ali, with the nom de guerre 'Abu Turaab al Kanadi', a Mississauga native fighting with IS. Ali's profile sent a message in August briefly answering a question about his social media activities on Twitter.

When asked why he and other IS operatives suddenly disappeared off of the social media app, under his al Kanadi alias, he responded "I don't know". The same profile has also received messages since the Paris attacks.

Follow Ben Makuch on Twitter: @BMakuch