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Ottawa aware Canadian reported dead in Iraq

Ottawa aware Canadian reported dead in IraqProfessor Imam Syed B. Soharwardy, left, speaks at the Jamia Riyadhul Jannah place of worship in Mississauga, Ont., on February 4 , 2012. A prominent Calgary imam worries that the reported death of a Canadian in Iraq could inspire other radicalized youth to follow his example. Imam Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, is worried that the death of one youth who has been "brainwashed", could prompt others to follow in his footsteps. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

CALGARY - A prominent Calgary imam worries that the reported death of a Canadian in Iraq could inspire other radicalized youth to follow his example.

Imam Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, is worried that the death of one youth who has been "brainwashed", could prompt others to follow in his footsteps.

The federal government says it is aware of reports that a Canadian has been killed in Iraq.

But the Foreign Affairs Department isn't confirming it is Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a former Calgary man the CBC has identified as having been radicalized in Canada and gone to the Middle East to fight for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The CBC cited multiple social media reports out of Iraq saying Shirdon has been killed.

"We are aware of reports that a Canadian was killed in Iraq. We are following the situation closely," said Jean-Bruno Villeneuve from Foreign Affairs.

Earlier this year, the network aired a propaganda video of Shirdon burning his Canadian passport and threatening U.S. President Barack Obama.

Foreign Affairs says it is monitoring the situation closely.

The department is advising against all non-essential travel to Iraq because of the "dangerous and unpredictable security situation" in the country.

Soharwardy said he feared the death would create "copycats."

"Absolutely I think it creates more attraction for those people who already on the borderline and have some sort of extremist feelings toward the more moderate Muslims and that's why it's very disturbing," said Soharwardy.

Soharwardy said he doesn't know Shirdon personally but has seen him at some events in Calgary in the past.

He said it is disturbing that many young Canadian Muslims are falling in with the wrong type of people who he refers to as "fanatics."

"They don't understand that Islam doesn't condone these kind of actions ... this is not martyrdom — this is fanaticism, terrorism," he said.

"The fanatics, they have the freedom to preach here, they have the freedom to work and visit the communities and talk to young boys and nobody is stopping them. It is quite disturbing that these youth are being brainwashed in Canada."

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