2 “Canadian” jihadis killed in Algeria identified

by 1389 on April 3, 2013

in 1389 (blog admin), al-Qaeda, Algeria, Canada, Islamic terrorism

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Published on Apr 2, 2013 by SDAMatt2a

Two Canadians suspected of involvement in a terrorist attack at a natural gas plant in Algeria this year have been identified as former high school friends from London, Ont. — in a news report that suggests more Canadians than previously revealed may have been involved in the hostage-taking.

CBC’s The National on Monday night identified the two men as Ali Medlej and Xristos Katsiroubas, both in their early 20s and raised in middle-class neighbourhoods.

The two likely intentionally blew themselves up during the attack at the In Amenas facility, the CBC reported, citing unnamed sources.

The pair had also travelled overseas with at least two former classmates, but it was unclear whether they were still alive or had any connection to the attack, the CBC said.

RCMP officials refused to confirm the identities Monday night.

“Since our last update, on remains of a second Canadian being identified, our investigation into this matter continues and no further information will be given at this time,” Sgt. Greg Cox said in an email.

The CBC reported that CSIS agents interviewed family and friends of the two as far back as 2007, but the pair had not recently been under surveillance.

A senior RCMP official has previously said that investigators confirmed the Canadians’ identities through forensic analysis of remains recovered from the attack site. The process involved the collection of DNA and fingerprint samples.

Investigators on the ground in Algeria had access to a large number of bodies — the remains of the two Canadians were among those of the “alleged terrorists,” the official said.

The four-day siege at the energy plant in January ended when Algerian troops stormed the plant. Thirty-seven foreign hostages and 29 militants were killed.

An al-Qaida splinter group headed by Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for Algeria’s support of a French military operation in northern Mali.

Following the incident, Algeria’s prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal said two Canadians were among the band of Islamist militants who carried out the attack.

That prompted the deployment of a team of Canadian officials, including RCMP members, to the region to investigate.

Just last week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said that one of the greatest threats facing democratic nations was from “home-grown” violent extremists — individuals who seek to harm others in pursuit of overtly political, religious or ideological objectives.

“There is a real concern that new and evolving conflicts in the world may lure youth to engage in violent extremist activities at home and abroad,” Toews told a symposium on countering violent extremism.

“Canada, like all nations, has a responsibility to guard against its citizens travelling to areas of turmoil and participating in terrorist acts.”

At the same conference, Francois Guimont, deputy minister at Public Safety Canada, said radicalization in Canada has tended to involve young, well-educated middle-class men from a diverse range of backgrounds.

“Factors such as low socio-economic status and low levels of integration in Canadian society do not appear to play a significant role in the radicalization process in most cases,” he said.

Radicalized youth can be influenced by “real or perceived” grievances to issues such as foreign policy or in reaction to turmoil overseas, he said. The Internet also plays a major role.

On Monday night, the Prime Minister’s Office, CSIS and the Foreign Affairs Department all declined to comment on the latest news.

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