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Canadian Civilians Fighting ISIS (including threats to YPG)

A different scenario, via the National Post:
A Canadian army veteran killed in northern Syria last week was shot at close range by a gunman who approached him during the early morning darkness, according to two fighters who were nearby at the time.

Refuting reports that John Robert Gallagher was killed by a suicide bomber, both told the National Post he had actually died of a gunshot wound to the leg. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighter who shot him was killed.

“He died amongst friends and brothers,” said one of them, who had fought alongside Gallagher and said he was 500 metres away at the time of last Wednesday incident near Hasakeh, where they were trying to retake a village from ISIL.

He said Gallagher was “set up near a house in the prone position and then a man approached him.” Apparently unsure who the man was, Gallagher spoke to him. The man then pulled his gun and the others, realizing he was ISIL, shot him.

But as the enemy fighter was falling, he let off a burst of gunfire and one of the bullets struck Gallagher’s hip. “There was massive internal bleeding.

There wasn’t anything that could be done,” said another fighter who was nearby ....
milnews.ca said:
This, from VICE:
Two more former Canadian Forces soldiers have reportedly picked up arms alongside Kurdish militia to fight against the so-called Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) in Syria.

The revelation was made by another veteran who hailed from the same Alberta-based regiment and took a similar gamble last year.

"Steve Krsnik and Robert Somerville, two of my 1VP brothers getting some for themselves in Rojava," Brandon Glossop wrote on his Facebook page. "To date, the only ex-CF regulars I've heard of traveling to Syria to fight ISIS have all been ex [Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry]. This should not come as a surprise to anyone." ....
More from one of these wacky funsters, via VICE:
In the wake of one Canadian veteran's death fighting against the Islamic State (IS), another former soldier with the same rebel group is calling out Justin Trudeau's government for lack of action — and urging others like him to go rogue and join the war.

"In need of good and willing soldiers," Steve Krsnik wrote this week in a Facebook post. "Combat vets and experienced soldiers are needed in the fight against ISIS. The more experience the better if you are interested please send a PM for more details. With a list of experiences and courses preferred."


He and Somerville are serving with the Kurdish People's Protection Forces (YPG) in Kurdish Syria in territory loosely controlled by the YPG and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

When asked in September by VICE News why he chose to fight with the YPG, a group with links to the PKK, which is deemed a terrorist organization by some nations, Krsnik said "the choice was easy" and that he was eager to fight, while other avenues were taking too long.

"I am working as a volunteer fighting in Kurdistan against ISIS cuz our POS government isn't doing anything to help atm," said Krsnik in response to a friend who questioned his motives. "I am fully independent and working with local forces to push back and eliminate the threat we face. No disrespect taken brother."


"Only hard choice was how do I go about the whole PKK affiliation and other parties that have questionable ties and how that would effect my return," said Krsnik in a Facebook message to this reporter ....
And why would fighting in the YPG for the Syrian branch of the PKK be an issue, you may ask?  Because Canada considers it a terrorist organization:
.... Formally established in Turkey in 1978 by Abdullah Ocalan, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK / KADEK) is a Kurdish political party whose main goal is the creation of an independent Kurdish state in southeast Turkey and in northern Iraq, a region that is part of the traditional territory of the Kurdish people. To reach its goal, the PKK / KADEK has led a campaign of guerrilla warfare and terrorism, especially in Turkey and in northern Iraq. Its activities include attacking the Turkish military, diplomats and Turkish businesses at home and in some western European cities. It has also been known to bomb resorts and kidnap tourists in an attempt to destabilize tourism in Turkey ....
And it was a Liberal government that declared them bad boys 13 years ago (almost to the day - 10 December).  Interesting times, indeed ....
Some of the latest ...
The notion that Canadian volunteers fighting with Kurdish forces in northern Iraq and Syria could face prosecution under the former Conservative government's tough anti-terror laws has one human rights group calling for stricter supervision of the country's military training mission in the war-torn region.

A secret "Canadian Eyes Only" analysis of the Kurdish peshmerga, prepared by Transport Canada's intelligence branch, warns there are some factions of the militia group that are designated as terrorist entities under federal law.

"Any Canadians claiming to have links to organizations such as the People's Worker Party (PKK) are likely to become the subject of Canada's anti-terror legislation," says the report to the department, one of many federal agencies with a security assessment branch ...
Transport Canada's intelligence branch?

tis a oxymoron for sure, although they do have a Marine security branch, but it's more a data collection and report generation unit
Colin P said:
Transport Canada's intelligence branch?

tis a oxymoron for sure, although they do have a Marine security branch, but it's more a data collection and report generation unit

Actually; it is a lot more than that.
Colin P said:
Transport Canada's intelligence branch?

tis a oxymoron for sure, although they do have a Marine security branch, but it's more a data collection and report generation unit

It's a bit more than just maritime security. It covers most of the transportation sector as well. 
Obviously, Transport Canada is not a law enforcement agency and they are not charged with security intelligence. However, by virtue of what they do, including various types of inspections, and of the large volume of various transportation related information that go through their hand, they come upon interesting clues and leads.

The intel section sifts through that data they generate to identify these clues and pass them on to the proper enforcement agencies, be they RCMP, CATSA, CBSA, etc. It's not high level security intel work, but I have seen good info come out of TC.
Okay fair enough but doesn't it still sound a bit weird?

A secret "Canadian Eyes Only" analysis of the Kurdish peshmerga, prepared by Transport Canada's intelligence branch

Oldgateboatdriver said:
Obviously, Transport Canada is not a law enforcement agency and they are not charged with security intelligence.

All intelligence agencies are charged with 'security'.  That does not mean that it involves 'security' as related to LEOs or various forms of espionage.  It could deal with such things as 'physical security'. 

For those in Ottawa, you should have some idea of how many "Intelligence" organizations there are.  Nearly every Government Department has an "Intelligence" organization.  There are units that track financial transactions -- the "Follow the Money" guys.  There are "Intelligence" organizations that track threats to the environment.  Of course we have the RCMP, CBSA, Public Safety and a few others tracking criminal activities.  DND/CAF are tracking foreign military activities.  Global Affairs (formerly Foreign Affairs) are tracking political and economic conditions overseas.  CSIS and CSEC are doing their thing.  Transport Canada is just one of many, tracking any threats to any Canadian transportation, including such things as passengers on transport vehicles (air, land or sea).  There are numerous origanzations collecting and sharing "intelligence" in the country.  One could get quite paranoid in the nation's capital if you started looking for "spooks".
Oopsie ...
A Canadian army veteran who recently fought with Kurdish forces in Syria has been detained by immigration authorities in Australia, according to his parents.

Robert Somerville left northern Syria last month and was attempting to visit his father in Australia when he was taken to a detention centre in Brisbane. He is to be deported this week.

“He told me he was refused because he didn’t put his Kurdish name on his paperwork,” his father Richard Somerville, an Ontario man currently living in Australia, said Tuesday.

He said his son was not a dangerous person and should not have been detained. “For someone who would have been treated like a hero in Canada to be treated like a criminal in Australia is shocking,” he said.


A veteran of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry’s C Company in Edmonton, Somerville served in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010. He traveled to Syria last year as a volunteer.

He told the National Post in an interview last summer he had joined the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units, or YPG, because of the atrocities committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

He narrowly escaped a suicide car bombing attack by ISIL, and early in 2016 left for Thailand before arriving in Australia on Monday. Australia has strict foreign fighter laws ...
It looks like Turkey's shelling units that might (at least potentially, based on public reports previously posted in this thread) have some Canadians who've joined to fight ISIS/ISIL.

So, should we be pissed at Turkey for (maybe) shelling Canadian volunteers fighting ISIS/ISIL, or at our own folk for fighting for a group Turkey says is connected to a group Canada considers terrorists?

As someone smarter than me has said elsewhere, Kurds within Kurds within Kurds, indeed ...
British study of foreign anti-ISIS fighters:  so, are they legal, or not?
Governments need to clarify whether their citizens can legally serve as volunteer fighters in armed groups battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria and Iraq, a study released Tuesday has recommended.

The Institute for Strategic Dialogue report found that governments “appear reluctant to state clearly” whether the hundreds of Western anti-ISIL fighters, many of them military veterans, have broken any laws.

The hazy legality has led to confusion and uncertainty among both volunteer fighters and law-enforcement agencies over whether Westerners joining forces with Kurdish militias could be prosecuted at home.

The Canadian government has sent mixed signals on the issue: while verbally discouraging Canadians from taking up arms against ISIL, Ottawa has not prevented them from travelling or arrested them, although some have been questioned by the RCMP upon returning.

“There is a need in some instances for governments to clarify the legal situation surrounding anti-ISIS foreign fighters,” according to an advance copy of the 64-page report obtained by the National Post ...
Full study (64 pg PDF) here, summary (5 page) attached.


  • SUMMARY-ISD-Report-Shooting-in-the-right-direction-Anti-ISIS-Fighters.pdf
    490.3 KB · Views: 118
Not many details @ this point ...
A Canadian military veteran who has spent the past six months fighting ISIL alongside Kurdish forces has been arrested in northern Iraq, his mother said in an interview Sunday.

Michael Kennedy, 32, was on his to Sulaymaniyah, trying to make it home to Newfoundland for Christmas, when he was taken into custody by Iraqi Kurdish authorities, said his mother Kay Kennedy.

“All I know is he’s been arrested and he’s in Erbil,” she said from Saint Vincent’s, Nfld. She said she got the news from a Kurdish friend of her son’s. “He said nobody knows the reasons.”
More details, shared under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42) ...
A military veteran from Newfoundland and Labrador who had been fighting ISIS in northern Iraq has been arrested, according to a report from the National Post.

Michael Kennedy, 32, spent the past six months as one of hundreds of foreign volunteers assisting Kurdish forces, the report published Sunday said.

His mother, Kay Kennedy, told the National Post that her son was on his way home for Christmas when he taken by Iraqi Kurdish authorities. She found out from friend of her son's in Iraq.

"All I know is he's been arrested and he's in Erbil," Kennedy told the National Post. "Nobody knows the reasons."

Kennedy declined an interview with CBC News Monday morning, and said she had been advised not to do any more interviews about her son's situation.

She said the situation is particularly hard on her, as her son Kevin, 20, was one of six Canadian soldiers killed in a roadside bomb blast in 2007.

Michael Kennedy served in the Canadian Forces for 13 years, his mother said, but after leaving the military in March, he made his way to northern Syria three months later.

Kay Kennedy said he later crossed into Iraq and has been fighting around Shingal since.

She told the National Post he volunteered to fight the ISIS forces after hearing the experiences of people in northern Iraq, as "sort of a humanitarian thing."

The federal government has discouraged Canadians from travelling to fight ISIS but has not stopped them or arrested them upon their return.
I hope he gets home soon, the family has paid fate more than enough.  :salute:

I remember when his brother fell as I was a member of the team installing the WIISK add on armour to the vehicles at KAF.  His vehicle was the first one of those we modified that took casualties and I'll be forever haunted by it and the Coyote that followed that week.
A bit of an update:
A former Canadian soldier being held in Iraq is in good health and Canadian Embassy officials are working to win his release, federal cabinet minister Judy Foote confirmed Monday.

Foote, the senior minister responsible for Newfoundland and Labrador, spoke to Mike Kennedy's mother in Newfoundland earlier in the day, said press secretary Jessica Turner.


Kay Kennedy told the radio station it appeared there was a problem with some documents, suggesting some had expired. She said she was sure her son's visa was good until January.


Global Affairs Canada told The Canadian Press it was aware of a Canadian citizen being detained in Iraq, and spokeswoman Kristine Racicot confirmed in an email that Canadian officials are providing consular assistance and are in contact with local authorities.

However, Racicot said she could not disclose more details because of privacy considerations.

Racicot said Global Affairs Canada is advising against all non-essential travel to Iraq, including the provinces under the control of the Kurdistan regional government in northern Iraq. The department said the security situation in Erbil and a few other towns "could deteriorate quickly."

"All Canadians who travel to Syria and Iraq must do so at their own personal risk," the email said. "Due to the unpredictable security situation, providing consular assistance in all parts of Iraq and Syria is severely limited." ...
Some more detail from Russian-state media (RIA Novosti), shared under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42) - highlights mine ...
A Canadian military veteran has been arrested by Kurdish forces in Erbil, Northern Iraq, under mysterious circumstances. Michael Kennedy has been fighting Daesh forces in Iraq as a volunteer since June, and was attempting to return to his native Newfoundland for Christmas.

Kennedy served in the Canadian military for thirteen years. In a radio interview with VCOM, Kennedy’s mother claimed that he was part of a naval mission to the Gulf of Aden, where numerous nations have deployed warships to combat Somali pirates. In March 2016, Kennedy left the Canadian military and a few months later traveled to Northern Syria to join Kurdish fighters combating Daesh. He would later continue to fight in Nineveh, an Iraqi province sandwiched between Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Canadian military serviceman was fighting alongside the People’s Protection Units (YPG,) a Kurdish militia force based out of Northern Syria that has extended into Iraq in recent years. AP reports that Turkey considers the YPG to be a wing of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)***, a left-wing political party that has waged a bitter war of independence against Turkey since the 1980’s. This claim on Turkey’s part has proved problematic for the West, as the PKK is considered by NATO to be a terrorist group. The YPG is also a backbone to coalition efforts to defeat Daesh, and are actively armed by the United States.

The most likely explanation for Kennedy’s arrest is that he is associated with a rival faction to the territory he was passing through: the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP,) who control the government of Iraqi Kurdistan. They have worked closely with the Turks in the past. A similar incident to Kennedy's arrest occurred in October 2015, when six Western volunteers with the YPG were detained by the KDP. Three others met the same fate in April 2016. However, these nine were all detained because their visas had expired. Kennedy’s mother told VOCM that she is positive her son’s visa was valid through January, suggesting an extra wrinkle to the story.

The Globe and Mail reports that Global Affairs Canada (GAC), which manages Canada’s diplomatic and consular efforts, is aware of Kennedy’s detention and are working to have him released from custody and returned to Canada. Specific details about the incident have been withheld due to "privacy concerns," according to GAC, who also confirmed that he has met with Canadian embassy officials and is in good health.

*** - PKK's still considered a terrorist group by Canada - Kurds within Kurds ...
Media reports say Michael Kennedy's free now -- here's why Kurd authorities said he was detained ...
... Kurdish authorities, while not disputing the account, say Kennedy's side-trip into Syria was a serious violation that warranted his detention.

"He is arrested because he came from Syria and crossed [the] Iraq and [Kurdish Regional Government] borders illegally [at] Shingal," Dindar Zebari, the assistant head of foreign relations in the semi-autonomous region, told CBC News on Tuesday.

Zebari said Kennedy had been dealt with under Iraqi law.

A spokeswoman in the Kurdish prime minister's office added that other countries do not allow foreigners to cross boundaries at will and the arrest was a matter of "the rule of law."

The other foreign fighters — including some U.S. and German citizens — were not released with Kennedy on Tuesday ...
according the article I read, he was not initially detained as his visa was in order, but opted to stay with his buddies who were.