Somali-Canadian families are asking what happened to their sons after a group of young men apparently disappeared from Toronto two weeks ago. They left without notice, and have not contacted home since. “They didn’t even tell their parents,” said Omar Kireh, administrator of the Abu Huraira Centre, the Toronto mosque where the men occasionally worshipped.
Canada is home to about 150,000 ethnic Somalis, according to a report by Canada’s Integrated Threat Assessment Centre. Most are moderates but the report says that, “Some Somali-Canadians have fought as Islamist extremists in Somalia.”
A circle of friends in their twenties leaving town together might not ordinarily be cause for concern, but following recent events in the American Somali community, their disappearance has set off alarm bells. More than 20 Somali-Americans who similarly vanished from Minneapolis have turned up in Somalia as members of Al-Shabab, an Islamist youth militia aligned with al-Qaeda and often likened to the Taliban.
The RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service are still puzzling over their fate. Investigators have been showing photos of five men to members of Toronto’s Somali community. Ahmed Gure, who runs the Ottawa-based Somali news website Hiiraan Online, said he had spoken to relatives of the parents. He said they fear the men have gone to Somalia to fight.