Even before the Islamic Courts made its recent appeal to expatriates to return and fight, “significant” numbers of Somalis in Canada have been doing just that. “Somali holy warriors coming from Canada: experts,” from the National Post:
TORONTO — A number of young Somali-Canadians have returned to their homeland and joined a hardline Islamic militia that some call Africa’s Taliban, sources have told the National Post.
The Shabbab, a Somali youth militia whose leader is believed to have been trained by al-Qaida in Afghanistan, includes several Canadians in its ranks, the sources said.
Somali-Canadians are also said to be serving in other militias, as well as in senior positions in Somalia’s interim government and its opponent, the Islamic Courts Union.
The Canadians are described as refugees who moved to Toronto and Ottawa in the 1990s, some of them university students, who have returned to Somalia over the past two to three years.
“Some of the militia members of the Shabbab are young diaspora members who returned to Somalia from Canada,” a leading Somalia expert, who asked not to be identified, told the Post this week.
“The Somalis who are here, and others who have recently been in, confirm that quite a few of the Shabbab are in fact diaspora members, not just from Canada, but quite a few have come back from places like Pakistan.”
Some analysts believe Somalia is on the verge of becoming the next big destination for young extremist Muslims who want to participate in armed jihad.
The participation of a significant number of Canadians in the conflict has raised alarms in Ottawa, which fears members of the Somali militias will escalate to terrorism or return to Canada and radicalize a new wave of extremists.
It was just such a scenario that unfolded after the Soviet War in Afghanistan, when foreign volunteers became the first generation of al-Qaida terrorists. Others returned to the West and began recruiting others into terrorism.
“I think that the real concern is that there’s going to be blowback after their time is done in Somalia,” the expert said in an interview. “It’s very troubling.”