Terrorism De-Radicalization in Canada
"Absent that assumption [extremist fanatics claiming to have reformed are viewed as credible], extremists will continue to dupe well-intentioned people."
"My default position is that you have not deradicalized, you have not abandoned the cause, until you prove to the nth degree the contrary."
"I think it calls for a little more in-depth assessment and analysis of these guys. We have to come up with a system where assessments are being done on a regular basis."
Phil Gurski, former Government of Canada intelligence analyst
"Assessment is the absolute key."
"But it [the Violent Extremist Risk Assessment guide] has some weaknesses. It shows some potential but it's got some real limitations."
"... Everyone recognizes that we really need to get serious about developing better assessment mechanisms."
Prof. Lorne Dawson, co-founder, Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society
It's somewhat of a conundrum, isn't it? Young men ostensibly unable to find a place for themselves in society, where they 'fit in', looking about for solutions to their feelings of societal alienation, convert to Islam, where they feel they will find guidance and comfort. That guidance takes a strange form, compelling the convert to declare himself at one with the Islamic message to believing Muslims that it is incumbent upon them to engage in jihad.
So which came first in these situations? The seeker-after-place-and-function looking for validation in their well-settled belief of violence to change society and finding it in the blessing that Islam gives to its martyrs in jihad? Or the seeker responding to the more generalized message inherent in Islam, and stumbling upon the call to jihad, and taking to it with alacrity?
Whatever the answer -- and it may very well be a different answer for each of those who present themselves as loyal Islamic State or al-Qaeda, or Boko Haram active participants in wreaking havoc and slaughtering innocents in obeisance to jihad's message to slay the unfaithful, the heretics, Christians, Jews and all those who mock and refuse to surrender to Islam -- it eludes.
The current yardstick in measuring an individual's level of commitment to jihad, called The Violent Extremist Risk Assessment tool, rates extremists on a scale reflecting whether they score low, medium or high in 25 distinct risk categories including the use of extremist websites, direct contact with extremists, identity problems, and exposure to military training.
Those in authority in acknowledging that the current efforts to restrain would-be terrorists before they commit their atrocities have failed are desperately seeking solutions. Efforts at de-radicalization, bringing into cooperation family members, communities, mosques and police working in a tandem of deliberation to impress upon the ISIL sympathizer that his sensibilities are misplaced, think they work -- until they don't.
Canada has experienced a number of wake-up calls. Not only the Muslim-born second and third generation restive youth attracted to the message of violent jihad and going abroad to join the terrorist groups, with concerns that if/when they return they will bring their experience and their expertise back with them, but the cautionary tale of deterring the determined from travelling to jihad, only to see them practise what ISIL preaches within Canada.
Going directly to the source, where Saudi-funded Wahhabist madasses the world over have produced jihadis, counter-radicalization is a protocol practised in Saudi Arabia, since the Frankenstein it helped produce had turned on the House of Saud as well, and it is questionable the degree to which success can be claimed.
Determined jihadists whose faith in what they have pledged themselves to cannot be readily dissuaded, and will simply tell their minders what they want to hear, and then embark on fulfilling their perceived obligation to jihad. Recidivism rates are not anything to be proud of. And if these radicals are imprisoned for their crimes, prisons become the perfect, receptive venue for indoctrination of others.
The most recent Canadian terrorist recruit had found himself quite capable of producing a jihad/martyr video before embarking on his mission to blow up a crowd of people at his choice of public venue, with the use of a home-made explosive device, undeterred by being on a watch-list.
How now, brown cow?
Video footage showing Aaron Driver is seen behind RCMP Deputy Commissioner Mike Cabana (left) and Assistant Commissioner Jennifer Strachan during a press conference for what the RCMP are calling a terrorism incident, in Strathroy, Ontario on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016 in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)