An investigation by Radio-Canada’s Enquête has uncovered the identities of a group of 10 young Quebecers who secretly joined militants in Syria to fight against the Bashar al-Assad regime.
The group was made up of friends who often gathered at a Montreal-area shooting range to practise before seven of them left for the Middle East between the summers of 2012 and 2013, Radio-Canada has learned.
According to witnesses, the young men brought two firearms to the shooting range. One of them was an imitation Soviet semi-automatic carbine, called an SKS, similar to the one used by rebels in Syria.
Some of the young men trained at the shooting range over a period of several months, two to three times a week.
Several of them are believed to have been converts to Islam. Witnesses said that during their practice sessions, they would interrupt their shooting to pray.