Ottawa (AFP) – A young man once jailed for smuggling weapons for the Toronto 18 terror plot to attack Canada's parliament and other targets has been killed in Syria, local media said Thursday.
Somalia-born Canadian Ali Mohamed Dirie reportedly left Canada after his release from prison in 2011 to join rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The daily Toronto Star and other newspapers cited unnamed security and Toronto Muslim community sources as saying that Dirie had been killed in the civil war that has claimed more than 110,000 lives, including at least 100 Canadians who left for Syria in the past year.
Dirie was arrested in 2005 at the US border trying to re-enter Canada with two loaded handguns taped to his thighs, and pleaded guilty to importing and possessing firearms and ammunition.
The so-called "Toronto 18" suspects were arrested the following year for plotting to attack parliament, a nuclear power plant, the Toronto stock exchange and other targets using fertilizer explosives packed in rented vans.
Their plot was foiled when members of the group sought to purchase three tonnes of the bomb-making ingredient ammonium nitrate from undercover police officers, who had switched it with an inert substance.
In a 2011 paper on the radicalization of Canadian youth, the Macdonald-Laurier Institute referred to Dirie as "the best known example of a terrorist convict actively promoting terrorism behind bars."
Dirie reportedly still espoused his hardline views during a 2010 parole hearing, including a fierce opposition to Canada's involvement in the Afghanistan conflict, calling it "an unjust war."