Canadian police say man on high-risk watch list fled country

Wed Mar 11, 2015 12:18pm EDT
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By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian man who was on a police watch list for high-risk travelers has left the country illegally and is being sought for arrest, police said on Wednesday.

Mohamed El Shaer is one of about 90 high-risk travelers the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has been watching because of what it says are their ties to foreign fighters or terrorist groups. He left Canada without a valid passport after being released from jail in mid-January, the RCMP said.

El Shaer was charged in June 2014 with making false statements to obtain a passport, but skipped his court dates in August and September and fled the country. He was arrested in November at Toronto's Pearson International Airport when he returned to Canada. He then pleaded guilty to passport fraud offenses and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, the RCMP said.

He was released in mid-January and left Canada despite travel restrictions imposed on him. A warrant was issued for his arrest on Feb. 26 for forgery and identity theft, the RCMP said.

The police force did not immediately respond to questions on how El Shaer was able to leave Canada while he was on the nation's watch list.

Sources with knowledge of the situation said El Shaer left the country from Toronto's Pearson airport.

Canadian media, quoting a Twitter post by a friend of El Shaer's, said El Shaer had joined fighters in Syria or adjacent regions. The Twitter account has since been suspended.

The National Post newspaper reported that El Shaer had come to the attention of the RCMP when he traveled to Turkey last year with Ahmad Waseem, a Canadian man who has fought for jihadist groups overseas and is also wanted by the RCMP.

(Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Peter Galloway; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)