Under the Investigative Radar
"Generally, 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 individuals involved."
Staff Sgt. Julie Gagnon, RCMP spokesperson
"Being diligent with prayers does not necessarily mean that you are radical. Generally, it is in someone's speech or in discussions about their intentions that you can judge whether someone is radical ..."
"With me he did not have that."
Former university classmate of Assane Kamara, former student, Universite de Sherbrooke
"It emerged that her [Senegalese diplomat formerly serving in the Senegalese missions abroad] son, a student in Canada, had abandoned his studies to join a group made up of fundamentalists."
"[The woman informed investigators] that her son, Assane Kamara, had left for Tunisia to join the ranks of the jihadists."
Boumy Ciss, Senegalese National Police spokesperson, Dakar
"I sent a present by the normal mail for Ramadan to thank Assane for having taught me the Arabic alphabet and for having taught me how to recite certain verses of the Qur'an."
"I would like to help you but I am of no use in this case."
"When I applied for the [Canadian] passport, two [RCMP] agents came to meet me in a restaurant and they came solely to ask me to work for them as an informer, or a spy -- call it how you wish."
"I refused their offer and I'm still waiting for my passport."
Harris Catic, former university friend, Universite de Sherbrooke
|Assane Kamara, a Senegalese student who studied at Universite de Sherbrooke in Quebec, was arrested in February 2016 on terrorism charges in Dakar, Senegal. Police there allege he travelled to Tunisia in an attempt to join the ranks of the jihadists. (Google Plus)|
The young man lived in various parts of the world with his Senegalese diplomat family during his 24 years; in Ivory Coast, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Madagascar -- and Canada. And it was, it appears, while in Canada, sent to attend university in Quebec by his parents, that he was radicalized into Islamist jihad. While living in Sherbrooke and attending the Universite de Sherbrooke, he made many friends among other Muslim students, some of whom were already radicalized and helped guide him.
Three Canadian Muslims in particular whose names came up; Samir Halilovic, Zakria Habibi and Youssef Sakhir, have all been implicated in Islamist jihad, had one by one travelled abroad for the express purpose of joining up with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria and in Iraq. Assane Kamara, it seems, had a similar aspiration and did in fact travel for that purpose before he was apprehended in Tunisia and returned to Senegal, where he was arrested.
But before that his parents had returned to Senegal from their posting abroad, little aware that their son whom they sent to further his education in Canada had left the university and moved to Alberta. When he set out on that trajectory in his life he simply dropped all contact with his family. His concerned mother travelled to Canada, first to Quebec then to Alberta, to find her wayward son. When she did, she insisted he return to Dakar with her.
|Youssef Sakhir is among three Canadians believed to have left Canada in 2014 to join the ranks of Daesh, or the Islamic State. Sources say he was motivated by the humanitarian crisis resulting from the Syrian civil war and took work in a hospital.|
While in Edmonton, however, he re-engaged with his friends who had also relocated to Alberta. He had already, in Quebec "completely changed his lifestyle", stated one family member. He was studying economics at university, then declared capitalism to be "haram", forbidden by Islam. And he became convinced that as a pious Muslim he was obligated to live under Shariah law. His other friends at university claimed that he was not extreme in his outlook, merely focusing on religion.
|Zakria Habibi, one of three young men from Sherbrooke, Que., believed to have left the country in the summer of 2014 to join the Islamic State or Daesh.|
But it was there that he joined the Muslim Student Association. He attended their events manning a kiosk to distribute books on Islam. His student visa expired, and he moved to Edmonton where he lived for several months. That is where his worried mother flying in from Dakar, found him, leading the prayer service in an Edmonton mosque. After his mother convinced him to return to Senegal, Assane's friends left Canada, one of whom since died in Syria.
|Samir Halilovic, one of three young men from Sherbrooke Quebec believed to have fled Canada in the summer of 2014 to join the ranks of Daesh, or the Islamic State.|
The RCMP, investigating their departure and the purpose of it, discovered Assane's connection to these new terrorist suspects. By that time he was back in Senegal, and when he heard of what his friends were up to, he decided to join them. When his mother learned about a planned trip to Tunisia she alerted Senegalese police who had him detained in Tunisia, then returned to Dakar.
When police arrested Kamara at the family home, pressing charges of criminal association with a terror group, glorification of terrorism and involvement in terrorist financing, he was put out of commission, and now awaits trial. According to news reports out of Senegal, police recovered financial statements indicating money received by Kamara from individuals including Harris Cati from Sherbrooke. Ostensibly, to aid him in his plans to join Islamic State, and his other friends.
Strange that of all the places where his Muslim faith might have placed him somewhere he would be vulnerable to recruiters for jihad, he should find that opportunity to become more deeply involved in his religion so as to respond to the call to violent jihad to satisfy his perceived obligations as an observant Muslim in Canada. Both Montreal and Edmonton have distinguished themselves by leaving the impression that they have become hotbeds of Islamist jihadist revival.