TIMMINS, Ont.— A Timmins, Ont., man who went to Syria to fight with a rebel group linked to al-Qaida died last year, according to recent reports online.
Abu Muslim, previously known as Andre Poulin, died during a fight at the Mennegh Airport last year where the rebels were fighting the Free Syrian Army for control, an American jihadist identified as Abu Turab Al-Muhajir said in an online conversation earlier this month.
"Abu Muslim was martyred. I got pics," Al-Muhajir said in the posting on Jan. 9.
On Jan. 15 during the same open conversation, he said there were "maybe 100" Canadians fighting in Syria.
As well, a post on Aug. 8, 2013 in the forum Islamic Awakening also confirmed Muslim's death, saying he had been "recently martyred."
To people on another Muslim forum, Ummah, he was known as Uncle Umar.
Muslim was interviewed by the U.K.'s Channel Four in a documentary about British and western jihadi fighters. When asked about his non-Muslim parents, he said they knew where he was.
"On the one hand, they are happy I'm taking my own path, doing my own thing and helping people. At the same time, they don't understand entirely why I'm here," he admitted.
Timmins Crown attorney Gerrit Verbeek said he’s often wondered what happened to the young man he last spoke to back in early 2010. The two first met in early 2009, when Poulin was 20.
“He was a young man, and he had just converted to Islam,” explained Verbeek. “He wanted to live in a Muslim environment, so he moved in with a Muslim man here in Timmins.”
Verbeek said Poulin moved out of the host’s home in May 2009 when the host discovered Poulin and his common-law spouse were having an affair.
Poulin threatened the other man, reportedly saying: “Brother, I heard you are converting from Islam to Christianity, and I will make sure that you are dead.”
“The victim was afraid for his life … and believed that (Poulin) had adopted radical Muslim views — those of the Taliban,” said Verbeek. “He believed Mr. Poulin had a religious duty to cause harm to him.”
Poulin was charged with two counts of uttering threats.
In August 2009, while still under court orders, Poulin was arrested again for confronting his former host with a utility knife upon hearing the man had resumed communication with his ex-wife.
Verbeek remembered how the complainant had reservations with going forward with the case.
“First of all, he was scared for his safety,” said Verbeek about the man whom Poulin had repeatedly threatened.
“Secondly, (he was thinking), ‘Here’s a young convert who is going off the rails; perhaps if we are kind to him and give him some guidance, it won’t turn out badly.’”
Poulin pleaded guilty to all the charges in return for 12 months of probation.
The news of his death comes days after the death of 22-year-old Calgary man Damian Clairmont made headlines. Al-Muhajir announced Clairmont's death on Twitter on Tuesday.
The tweet shows a photograph of Clairmont and says: "He was killed while defending himself and his brothers from the #FSA onslaught in Aleppo."
- With files from Benjamin Aube