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Father of suspected radicalized Quebecer fears the worst

03/20/2015 10:13 EDT | Updated 05/20/2015 05:59 EDT
The father of a 19-year-old Quebec student who travelled to the Middle East with the possible intention of joining militants in Syria is fearing the worst. 

Without telling his parents, the student flew to Turkey on Jan. 16. The family hasn’t heard from his since.

“You can’t imagine what I’m feeling,” the student’s father, who isn’t being named to protect the identity of his son, told Radio-Canada.

“I’m a different person since he left. Even my family in Tunisia doesn’t know what’s happened.”

The student is the latest of seven young Quebecers reported by Radio-Canada to have left the country to join militants in Syria.

All seven are believed to have flown from Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport to Turkey in January, hoping to eventually make their way into the war-torn country.

The father told Radio-Canada he couldn’t explain why his son had left home.

“I have lost my son,” he said. “He was manipulated…”

The student studied at Montreal’s Collège de Maisonneuve, as did four of the others who went missing earlier this year.

According to his father, he was in his final year of CEGEP and had signed up for two courses at an Islamic centre led by Adil Charkaoui, a Moroccan-born Montrealer who years ago successfully challenged being held on a security certificate.

Charkaoui has maintained he did nothing wrong, and earlier this week Collège de Maisonneuve announced it would allow him to resume teaching his courses after a contract with the school had been briefly suspended.

The father said it was important his son learn Islam.

He added that he’s concerned about how Muslims are perceived in Quebec and hopes to see his son again soon. But he’s fearing the worst, given where his son may have headed.

“I had two girls and two boys, now I have two girls and a boy,” he said.

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