Image source: Twitter
In August 2017, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed to Global News that Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a Somali-Canadian terror suspect, was killed in Iraq in July 2015. Global News reports that it sent the U.S. military a list of Canadian foreign fighters and asked if any had been killed in coalition actions.
Up until confirmation of his death, Shirdon was the central figure in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) criminal investigation. Communications between VICE News reporter Ben Makuch and Shirdon are the subject of an RCMP production order which is currently before the appeals courts. The RCMP are demanding source records of Makuch’s communications with Shirdon via the instant messaging app KiK. CJFE is intervening alongside a coalition of civil society and media organizations in the potentially precedent-setting case to protect journalistic sources.
“Farah Mohamed Shirdon, an external operations facilitator and recruiter, was killed by a coalition airstrike in Mosul on July 13, 2015,” a CENTCOM spokesperson said in an email received by Global News and reported on in August 2017. “We have nothing further to add at this time.”
Following the announcement of Shirdon’s death, CJFE reached out to Mr. Dubeau the acting commissioner of the RCMP, to ask how they would justify pursuing the production order against Makuch and VICE News. The case is likely to set a serious precedent for police access to journalistic source records, but is not likely provide a national security intelligence benefit.
CJFE received a response from the RCMP this week which simply stated that the agency was aware of reports that Shirdon was deceased but would neither confirm nor deny this as a fact. The response did not mention the production order or the status of the investigation.