Toronto university student, who vanished last year, died in Somalia fighting for group tied to Al Qaeda.
The family of a Toronto student linked to an Al Qaeda group in Somalia is in mourning after learning online that their son had been killed.
A two-minute video of Mohammed Elmi Ibrahim, also known as Ahmed, was posted on YouTube late Tuesday night along with a terse message that he had been killed in “battle.”
“They (his parents) heard about it Tuesday night … that their son is dead,” said Omar Kireh, administrator at Abu Huraira Centre in North York, the mosque where Ibrahim worshipped.
“Of course, they are devastated. They never thought it would come to this.”
Born and raised in Toronto, Ibrahim was in his early 20s and a student at the University of Toronto.
He was the first of six Somali-Canadian men who disappeared from the Toronto area last year and were believed to have joined al Shabaab in Somalia, an Islamist youth militia aligned with Al Qaeda.
They all worshipped at the Abu Huraira Centre. Some have called their families and told them they are not returning to Canada.
“I don’t know if he (Ibrahim) had been calling his parents,” said Kireh, adding he had yet to talk to the young man’s parents. “It’s very sad … everyone had high expectations from him.”
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In the video, made in Saudi Arabia, Ibrahim speaks in English and discusses the historic significance of the location.
The video’s accompanying text, addressed to Canadian youth, says: “Dont be sadden (sic) but rather rejoice in the news of your dear brother and follow his footsteps and march forth in the ranks of the honest mujahideen, al Shabaab mujahideen. The brave brother achieved his goal while marching forth not wavering. … We ask Allah to accept him.”
It doesn’t say when or where Ibrahim was killed.
His death has not been officially confirmed and Foreign Affairs in Ottawa did not return calls Wednesday.
A Star reporter was turned away at Ibrahim’s parents’ Scarborough home Wednesday evening.
“We are in mourning,” a woman at the door said, asking the reporter to leave.
About 10 cars were parked outside the home and a constant stream of people entered.
Ibrahim disappeared with his passport about eight months ago, his friends told the Star. About a month later, they say, he called his parents and said he was in Kismayo, a port city in southern Somalia ruled by al Shabaab.
The sister of a Markham man, one of the other five Somali-Canadians who disappeared, would not say Wednesday whether she had heard about Ibrahim’s death.
RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service officers have been investigating the disappearances of the GTA men.
This month, al Shabaab was added to the Canadian government’s list of terrorist organizations.
The designation came soon after the Somali-Canadian community reported the group was trying to radicalize and recruit Canadians.
It was listed as a terrorist organization in the U.S. early last year. More than 20 young Somali-American men have disappeared in two years, and are believed to have joined al Shabaab.