“Voice of ISIS” Abu Ridwan Al-Kanadi Captured

Will Canada stand on guard for Islamic State fighter and propagandist?

On January 13, US-backed Kurdish forces captured an Islamic State jihadi who identified himself as Mohammad Abdullah Mohammad, a Canadian from Toronto and reportedly the English-language narrator of Islamic State propaganda. The ISIS fighter had been sought for some time, but in Canada the focus of the story became the Islamic State’s displeasure over the jihadi’s capture.

“ISIL supporters upset about capture of prominent Canadian jihadi, say it’s demoralizing,” headlined a January 28 National Post story by Adrian Humphries. ISIS-friendly Al-Muhajreen identified the fighter as Abu Ridwan Al-Kanadi and described his capture as “sad news for all mujahideen of the Islamic State.”

When news of Ridwan’s capture began to circulate, Humphries wrote, “the apparent joy from the enemies of ISIL, also known as ISIS, upset jihadi supporters.” They said it all served the interest of the “Crusaders and the enemies of the Islamic State.”

In the penultimate paragraph readers learn that Ridwan is “believed to be the same man as the masked narrator of a notorious ISIL propaganda video that features the mass execution of captured Syrian government soldiers. The narrator appears to take part in the firing squad. The same man is believed to be behind several recorded claims of responsibility by ISIL for deadly terror attacks on the West as well as reading news reports on ISIL radio networks.” So only in the walk-off do readers get key details about Ridwan, now 35 years old.

The National Post story says Canadian jihadi was born in Saudi Arabia but at age five moved to Canada, where he grew up in Toronto and attended Seneca College. In coverage of the capture by Albawaba News, professor Amarnath Amarasingam said the “voice of ISIS” sounded “distinctly Canadian” on broadcasts such as “Flames of War.” Ridwan claimed to be Ethiopian and travelled from Canada to Syria in 2013. The story closes out: “his fate is unclear.” 

So is the fate of at least 13 other Canadian Islamic State fighters. Some, like Jack Lett, also known as “Jihad Jack,” want to “live a normal life” in Canada. Some Canadian officials are uneasy about repatriating ISIS fighters and favor revocation of their Canadian citizenship. Others want to put the ISIS troops through Canadian courts, as though they stuck up a bank in Halifax instead of fighting in open combat, torturing and executing prisoners, enslaving women and other atrocities.

Canada paid $10 million, plus an apology, to Omar Khadr, an al Qaeda combatant captured in Afghanistan. So it’s not out of the question that Islamic State combatant and propagandist Abu Ridwan Al-Kanadi would serve little if any time and perhaps bag a monetary award plus veterans benefits. Given the Muslim fighter’s experience in broadcasting, he might get his own show on CBC radio. As this plays out, another prominent figure may be heading for Canadian shores.

Pakistan has upheld the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman accused of insulting the prophet of Islam in a dispute over a drink of water. Bibi spent eight years on death row for blasphemy, a capital crime under Pakistan’s Islamic law, and Muslim mobs continue to demand the woman’s execution.

“She deserves to be murdered according to sharia,” Islamic activist Hafiz Ehtisham Ahmed told reporters. “If she goes abroad, don’t Muslims live there? If she goes out of Pakistan, anybody can kill her there.” Two of Bibi’s children are reportedly in Canada and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has offered help. Australia, Spain and France may also be considering sanctuary for the Christian woman.

Meanwhile, Canadian Christian woman Anne Widholm, 76, passed away last December, more than a year after an unprovoked attack by Habibullah Ahmadi in Windsor, Ontario. Dr. Balraj Jhawar called Widholm’s massive head injuries “among the most brutal things I’ve seen in my career.” According to Dr. Jhawar, it was,  “not just another assault. This is maybe representing a new, dark side of Windsor that we can’t let propagate.”

Attacker Habibullah Ahmadi was 21, a full adult, but police never released his booking photo. News reports described him as a “Windsor man,” who goes by the name “Daniel.”  Local and national news stories contained no statements from Habibullah Ahmadi, nor any indication that he had declined an interview. Likewise, news reports contained no quotes from Habibullah Ahmadi’s family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, or fellow students in Windsor.

Nobody went on record about Habibillah Ahmadi’s possible motive. After Anne Widholm died, officials changed the charge to second-degree murder but released no information about Habibullah Ahmadi, whose name means “friend of Allah.” Last July, Windsor’s AM 800 radio reported, “Ahmadi’s trial will be before a judge alone and his trial will be set in January 2019.”

At this writing, no judge has been named and a trial date has yet to emerge. In Windsor, Ontario, Canada, justice delayed remains justice denied.