‘Trick them, kill them’: Former Ottawa imam issues call to arms after son killed in Libya

TORONTO—A former Ottawa imam has issued a fiery call to arms to Libyans after his son, raised in the Canadian capital, was killed in clashes in , where Islamist militias are battling elements of the Libyan military.

“Allah break the backs of the tyrants and the oppressors and the unjust and those nations of the world that are with them,” Abdu Albasset Egwilla said. “Allah they have gathered against us and are scheming against us, so scheme against them.

“Trick them, kill them.”

In a televised speech to a gathering in Tripoli, he acknowledged the death of his son, , and thanked “all of those who were with him in the battlefield,” according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.

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“Our youth are waging battles in the Libyan east, youth, men who were honest in what they promised Allah. And so some of them died, and others are waiting. We are waiting for martyrdom in the name of Allah. And by Allah this is our path until we push back evil. We will not stop nor resign.”

The cleric, who preached at an Ottawa mosque before returning to Libya, was the subject of a Canadian intelligence report released last year that said he had appeared in an August 2014 video urging Libyan Islamist fighters to “take part in jihad.”

He seemed to do the same in his latest speech, calling the Libyan conflict a battle “against the people of evil” and asking, “Allah give our mujahedin (fighters) angels.” He said he supported national unity “but one that relies on Allah’s book.”

The Libya Herald online daily called him “a known hardliner” and a director of the Tripoli office of the ministry of religious endowments. It said the death of his son had “reignited concern about extremist influence in the ministry.”

His son had reportedly joined a Benghazi militia and was badly injured last week by forces loyal to Gen. Khalida Haftar, a Gaddafi-era soldier. A spokesman for a Libyan-Canadian group said Egwilla was in a building struck by a barrel bomb.

A notice posted on a Facebook page linked to the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries said Egwilla and another man had died “after a battle they waged against a group from the disbelieving forces,” according to SITE.

The death was raised at Monday’s sitting of the Senate National Security and Defence Committee, where Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Michel Coulombe testified about the 180 extremists who had left to take part in terrorism.

FacebookFacebookOwais Egwilla, linked to extremists, died in Libya

Speaking to reporters later, he would not confirm the killing. “I’m not saying that I doubt this person is dead,” he said. “What I’ve said and we’ve seen this a number of times, people are reported as being killed, just to resurface two, three, four weeks, a month later on Twitter or Facebook.”

Egwilla was fighting with the Omar Mukhtar Brigade, which is part of the Benghazi Shura Council, the Libya Herald reported. On Facebook, he had posted messages about jihad as well as the propaganda of the Syrian branch of al-Qaida.

But Khaled Misellati, a member of the Canadian Libyan Community Association’s board of trustees, said Egwilla was not an extremist. “He practically grew up here in Ottawa,” he said. He moved to Libya after finishing high school.

Two years ago, he returned to Ottawa to study. But he once again went back to Libya, where a civil war has been underway since 2014 as factions vie for power in the vacuum created by the death of longtime dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

With files from the Canadian Press

About Stewart Bell