On April 2, 2015, an arrest warrant for Muhanad Al Farekh has been unsealed after an RCMP investigation. The allegations against Muhanad Al Farekh date back to 2007. In 2005-2006, Al Farekh was listed as the Office manager for the Muslim Students Association at the University of Manitoba.
In 2011, Ferid Imam and Maiwand Yar, two other former MSA leaders at the University of Manitoba, had already been charged with terrorism offences after allegedly leaving Winnipeg for Pakistan to join al-Qaida with Al Farekh.
FBI (March 15, 2011): Indictment of Ferid Imam for providing material support to Al-Qaeda / Archive.Today – WebArchive
CBC News (March 15, 2011): The RCMP issues Canada-wide warrants for Ferid Ahmed / Imam and Maiwand Yar– Archive.Today – WebArchive
Original title: Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, former University of Manitoba student, charged with supporting terrorism
Author: Stewart Bell
Source: National Post, April 2, 2015 (Internet version)
A former University of Manitoba student has been charged with supporting terrorism after he allegedly left Winnipeg for Pakistan with two other suspects to join al-Qaida, according to an arrest warrant unsealed Thursday.
The allegations against Muhanad Al Farekh, a Texas-born U.S. citizen who lived with his grandmother in Winnipeg, date back to 2007 when he disappeared along with fellow Manitoba students Farid Imam and Maiwand Yar.
While Messrs. Imam and Yar, both Canadian citizens, were charged with terrorism offences in 2011 following an RCMP national security investigation called Project Darken, the indictment of Mr. Al Farekh was only unveiled this week.
The criminal complaint accused him of travelling “to Pakistan to join al-Qaida” and helping a terrorist group targeting American citizens and military personnel.
“Al Farekh allegedly provided material support to terrorists with every intention of becoming a martyr,” said Diego Rodriguez, assistant director of the FBI New York field office.
He is one of the dozens of so-called extremist travellers who have left Canada to join armed jihadist groups, prompting the government to introduce controversial legislation that would give police and security agencies new powers.
In an affidavit, the FBI said Mr. Al Farekh and his two Canadian associates became “increasingly religious” in Winnipeg beginning in 2006. A witness heard them talking about jihadi violence, which they called “a necessity.”
They referred to Osama bin Laden as “sheik” and “frequently viewed videos encouraging violent jihad,” the FBI said, including online lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula propagandist killed by a U.S. missile strike in Yemen four years ago.
Early in 2007, the trio sold all their belongings and bought “mountain boots.” Mr. Al Farekh told the witness they were flying to Pakistan on a “business trip,” but after they left Mr. Imam said in a phone call they were “on their way to become martyrs.”
After arriving in Karachi, they are believed to have made their way to northwest Pakistan for weapons training. None of them ever used the return portion of their plane tickets. Mr. Yar later wrote to his family suggesting he had been in both the Taliban and al-Qaida.
Meanwhile, Mr. Imam became an instructor at a camp in Miram Shah, a village in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. Witnesses have identified him as an al-Qaida operative who went by the alias Yousef and taught basic weapons training.
The Canadian, a former biochemistry student, taught the witnesses to assemble, maintain and fire AK-47s, PK medium machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers as well as 9mm and 82mm pistols, they said.
After they had completed their training, the witnesses — all U.S. citizens — were sent to bomb the New York City subway system. But the plot unravelled when they were arrested and all pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate with investigators.
According to one of the co-operating witnesses, “al-Qaida had a strong preference for using operatives with Western passports to conduct attacks in Western countries,” FBI special agent Mary Ann Marcell wrote in her affidavit.
“Al-Qaida specifically recruited individuals with U.S., Canadian and European citizenship, regardless of their ethnicity, in order to take advantage of the lack of travel restrictions imposed on Western citizens traveling in North America and Europe.”
Point de Bascule: File MSA University of Manitoba
Point de Bascule: File Muslim Students Association (General)
Hussein Hamdani (MSA National – 1996): Islamization of campus politics and the politicization of the MSA (Hussein Hamdani wrote his guide for MSA National while being an MSA leader at McMaster University. He later became an MSA leader at the University of Western Ontario, and is currently a member of the Cross-Cultural Roundtable advising Public Safety Canada and the Department of Justice on security matters.)
MSA National (June 4, 1997): Siraj Wahhaj leads a 1-month long Islamist retreat in Winnipeg (The event was sponsored by MSA National and organized by Shahina Siddiqui, who is currently advising the RCMP on security matters.)