Letters from a Jihadi: inside the mind of a Canadian accused of joining al-Qaeda

Not long after disappearing from Winnipeg, the young man writes home with a mixture of regret and practicality. This is going to hurt the family, his letter states, but it is the path in which God has guided him. He apologizes to his mother for leaving the country without her blessing. And he asks his family to pay his student loans, one provincial and one federal.

The next letter is different, a nine-page missive that is alternately hectoring and affectionate. In it, the former University of Manitoba student urges his family to leave Canada, a “filthy place” where the media tells nothing but lies about “Talibans, al-Qaeda and other groups fighting for the sake of Allah.” He proceeds to give instructions to each relative: start wearing hijabs, stop watching Hollywood movies, begin praying, keep your children out of public school.

The correspondence, revealed in a recent U.S. court filing, yields a telling portrait of the mindset of an alleged Canadian jihadist at a time when the federal government is increasingly investing in ways to avert the spread of extremist ideology.

Maiwand Yar letter to family