MONTREAL - A Canadian imam known for his pacifist sermons warned Friday that Islamist militant group IS was actively recruiting in Canada and said one member issued him a death threat.
Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada (ISCC), called on Canadian and Western authorities to intensify the fight against jihadist movements.
"Absolutely I am convinced that this recruitment is going on right here in this country, under our noses, in our universities, in our colleges, in the places of worship, in our community," he told CBC public television.
Soharwardy added that a Muslim man from Ottawa who was fighting with IS in Mosul in northern Iraq had sent him a death threat on Facebook.
"He was condemning me for condemning ISIS, and he was saying that 'You are a deviant imam and your version of Islam is not the right version,'" Soharwardy said, using another acronym by which IS is known.
The Calgary-based imam said such threats were nothing new.
"I get death threats from everybody," he said, adding that "just last month I had a death threat posted on a website." In February, intelligence services said at least 130 Canadians were fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria.
"Three Calgarian young fellows died in Iraq and Syria fighting for ISIS. One of them was very known to me," he said.
"These people are brainwashing people here in this country," he added.
Soharwardy also began a 48-hour hunger strike "to create awareness about the dangerous nature of ISIS" and pay homage to American journalist James Foley, who was executed by his jihadist captors in a video released Tuesday by IS.
IS declared itself a "caliphate" in late June and has since added a swath of northern Iraq to territory it already held in eastern Syria. The move has prompted a US campaign of air raids backing regional Kurdish and Iraqi forces fighting IS in the country's north.