A video has surfaced on the Internet claiming that Muhammed Elmi Ibrahim, a U of T student who went missing last year, has died fighting for a group with ties to an Al-Qaeda. The Toronto Star reported that Ibrahim was the first of six Somali-Canadian men who disappeared from Toronto last year and who are suspected of joining Al-Shabaab, a youth militia group in Somalia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not confirmed his death.
In the last two years, over 20 Somali men have disappeared from Canada and the U.S. to fight with Al-Shabaab, according to the CBC.
The video provides scant details of what happened, stating only that Ibrahim was “killed in battle” and that “he was firm and calm, rushing toward death.” It shows a man purported to be Ibrahim talking about the historical significance of a mountain in Saudi Arabia. The opening paragraph that accompanies the video states: “Glad Tidings to the youth in Canada. Your dear brother Mohamed al Muhajiri has succeeded. Don’t be sadden but rather rejoice in the news of your dear brother and follow his foot steps and march forth in the ranks of the honest mujahideen in Somalia.”
Ibrahim had worshipped at the Abu Huraira Centre and went by the nickname “Canlish,” a reference to the Scarborough neighbourhood he grew up in. An English major, he was known in his community as bright, well-spoken young man with a great future. Omar Kireh, an administrator at the Abu Huraira Centre, told reporters that while Ibrahim came to the mosque frequently in his youth, his attendance dropped off as soon as he entered university. If the reports are true, Kireh said, this would be a loss for his family, community, and Canadian society. “It’s very sad…everyone had high expectations from him,” he told the Star.
Ibrahim went on the traditional hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, but did not return with his travelling companions. Five other Somali Canadian men, Mahad Ali Dhore, Khalid Aden Noor, Mustafa Ali, Ahmed Heybe Ahmed, and Abdirahman Yusuf, also disappeared around the same time and had also worshipped at the Abu Huraira Centre.
Ibrahim’s family, who are in mourning, have turned away reporters.