TORONTO — Two Canadians are the latest addition to the United States' list of most-wanted terrorists that says the men are a threat to American national security and economic interests.
The decision to add 24-year-old Farah Mohamed Shirdon and 30-year-old Tarek Sakr to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists was published Wednesday in an official register of U.S. government regulations.
In an online bulletin, the State Department identifies Sakr as a Syrian-born Canadian citizen who has conducted sniper training for the Al-Qaida-linked al-Nusrah Front. Canadian-born Shirdon, who the Americans say also goes by the name of Abu Usamah, is a prominent fighter, as well as recruiter and fundraiser for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
"Today's action notifies the U.S. public and the international community that Sakr and Shirdon are actively engaged in terrorism,'' the U.S. State Department said in a release online.
In September 2015, the RCMP laid terrorism several charges in absentia against Shirdon, including participation in the activity of a terrorist group and instructing others to carry out terrorist activity.
The charges against the Calgary man came a year after an ISIL video surfaced of him burning his Canadian passport. Police say Shirdon — who left Canada on March 14, 2014, to fight with ISIL in Syria — was last known to be in the city of Raqqa.
"Our investigation showed that Shirdon served in a combat role and performed other functions for ISIS such as recruiting, fundraising, encouraging others to commit violence and spreading propaganda,'' RCMP Assistant Commissioner Marlin DeGrand said when the charges against Shirdon were laid.
Shirdon made threats in Vice video
One charge also relates to threats Shirdon allegedly made in a video interview with media outlet Vice in September 2014. In the video of that interview, a man calling himself Abu Usamah promised there was going to be a "brilliant'' attack in New York and ISIL's flag would fly over the White House.
The U.S. notice about Sakr says he "has conducted sniper training in Syria and periodically travels to Turkey,'' but a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale would not give more information about the Canadian man.
"For national security and privacy reasons, the Government of Canada cannot provide information on Tarek Sakr,'' Scott Bardsley said in an email Sunday to The Canadian Press.
Bardsley said Sakr does not face criminal charges in Canada and the government "cannot comment on who is or is not the subject of a criminal investigation as this falls under the independent realm of police agencies.''
Americans now barred from helping them
People on the Specially Designated Terrorists list are banned from using the U.S. financial system and bars American citizens from helping them or sending money. The list also includes the likes of Hamza bin Laden, the son of Al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden, as well as two men linked to the Paris attacks in 2015 that killed 130 people.
Other Canadians who have been added to the list are Hassan el-Hajj Hassan, who allegedly participated a 2012 bus bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israelis, and Michel Samaha, a former Lebanese minister of information and tourism who also holds Canadian citizenship.
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