Homegrown extremism abroad has a new face, and CBC News has learned it belongs to yet another Calgary man, a development that points to the West as a hotbed for exporting jihadis.
His name is Salman Ashrafi, and when the Al-Qaeda splinter group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) released images of him last month following a double suicide bombing in Iraq in November that killed 46 people, he was celebrated in a martryrdom notice.
Only then, he was known as Abu Abdullah Al Khorasani.
CBC News has confirmed that Al Khorasani was Ashrafi's nom de guerre and that he was a Canadian citizen who grew up in the Stampede City, where he went to school and worked.
The Calgarian's story is one of as many as two dozen others, most of whom left to battle alongside rebel militants in Syria.
At one time, Ashrafi led a lifestyle many would have envied, with jobs at Talisman and Exxon and huge downtown Calgary firms.
Calgary imam stunned
Much has changed since then. The revelation that he killed himself and others as part of an attack for ISIS — a group known for such grotesque violence it has even drawn condemnation from Al-Qaeda — has stunned people who spoke with CBC News and knew him.
This apartment building in downtown Calgary was the residence for five jihadis who eventually went to fight alongside extremist rebels in Syria, CBC News has learned. One of those men, Salman Ashrafi, went on from Syria to Iraq, where he died in a November 2013 suicide bombing, killing more than 40 others. (CBC)
"Oh, I know him! Oh my God," the cleric said, upon seeing a photo of Ashrafi and being told the militant was killed in the 2013 Tarmiya, Iraq, suicide attack.
Soharwardy was a longtime acquaintance of the family and had watched Ashrafi and his siblings "grow up in front of me."
Shocking though it may have been, Ashrafi's journey from being a University of Lethbridge student who organized anti-racism rallies to a violent end as a suicide bomber is not an anomaly.
Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/suicide-bomber-killed-in-iraq-part-of-wider-jihadi-base-in-calgary-1.2663890
Video report at link.