“It’s a really hard thing to tell your government, ‘By the way, your policies are problematic.’ Governments are not comfortable talking about it because it forces them to be self-critical of their own policy — but it cannot be ignored.”
Is Phil Gurski, former CSIS analyst, serious? Muslims join jihad groups because they find it difficult to criticize government policies? So in Canada, where there is still relatively open discussion and debate in the public arena, and loyal opposition is not against the law, is so repressive of dissent that the only outlet that young Muslims can find is violence?
One wonders if these “experts” believe their own nonsense.
Note also that what Gurski is counseling is essentially surrender to jihadi demands. He says: “Every single plot we’ve had dating back to the Toronto 18 was predicated largely — not solely but largely — on this notion that our foreign policy is anti-Islamic or, in fact, killing Muslims. That is the reality. They (extremists) tell us that. They tell us that in their statements. They tell us that in their cellphone videos.” CBC adds: “That is, in fact, what Michael Zehaf-Bibeau did before carrying out a shooting on Parliament Hill in October 2014 that left a Canadian soldier dead.”
They do indeed tell us that. For Gurski and the CBC, this means that Canada and the U.S. should adjust their foreign policies to please the jihadis, and they think that would end the jihad. In fact, if Western countries capitulate to the present set of jihadi demands, there will just be new and more aggressive and assertive demands, emboldened by the precedent that jihadis can get what they want from the West by committing acts of terrorism.
Gurski’s analysis and recommendations here would only result in more jihad terrorism.
“If you want to deradicalize Muslim youth, talk more politics, less religion, say critics,” by Shanifa Nasser, CBC News, May 13, 2016:
Canada has a blind spot when it comes to its efforts to counter the radicalization of young Muslims and other disaffected youth, and hidden in it are the political grievances of young people who feel they have no way to air their views or effect change, some experts warn.
Phil Gurski is a former CSIS analyst who spent 15 years at the spy agency specializing in homegrown terrorism and violent extremism. He found that the government’s foreign policies played a significant role in the radicalization of some individuals.
“It’s a really hard thing to tell your government, ‘By the way, your policies are problematic,'” he said. “Governments are not comfortable talking about it because it forces them to be self-critical of their own policy — but it cannot be ignored.”
Gurski says that Canada has taken positive steps toward thwarting the threat of violent extremism through such prevention programs as Calgary’s police-run ReDirect and Montreal’s anti-radicalization centre.
But, he says, these efforts have focused largely on social and psychological factors and ignored the more uncomfortable driver of radicalization: foreign policies that feed into a narrative of Western aggression against countries with predominantly Muslim populations.
“Every single plot we’ve had dating back to the Toronto 18 was predicated largely — not solely but largely — on this notion that our foreign policy is anti-Islamic or, in fact, killing Muslims,” Gurski said.
“That is the reality. They (extremists) tell us that. They tell us that in their statements. They tell us that in their cellphone videos.”
That is, in fact, what Michael Zehaf-Bibeau did before carrying out a shooting on Parliament Hill in October 2014 that left a Canadian soldier dead.
“This is in retaliation for Afghanistan and because [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper wants to send his troops to Iraq,” he said in a short video manifesto found on his cellphone after he was killed in the attack.
It’s a point that resonates with one Toronto area man who says that, in the aftermath of 9/11, he thought about going to Iraq to join insurgents fighting against the United States. CBC News agreed to conceal the man’s identity because of his fears that he might be branded an extremist.
“I could be considered a radical to some,” he said. “That’s why people like me don’t air their views.”
The man, who is in his thirties, says the reasons why he ultimately chose not to travel to Iraq are varied.
“I did contemplate joining them — in fact, I seriously contemplated it — but I never went. It was a thought. I was questioning.”
There are signs that Canada is stepping up its deradicalization efforts. The federal government earmarked $35 million in its budget for a new community outreach and counter-radicalization co-ordinator, and in April, the Canadian Council of Imams announced plans to open two to three deradicalization “clinics” in Toronto as early as this fall.
Headed by former CCI chairman Hamid Slimi, the clinics will take “a holistic approach,” providing religious counselling and access to psychotherapists and social workers.
“There are people who use religion to justify their acts, and these people are extremists,” Slimi said. “So, you need to go to people who are leading the community on the religious level: imams.”
Deradicalization centres aren’t a new idea, says Gurski, but what is different about the Toronto initiative is that it comes from within the religious community rather than from the government or the justice system, which has attempted to mandate religious counselling in some cases.
In January, the federal parole board included religious counselling in the parole conditions of Saad Gaya, who pleaded guilty to participating in a bomb plot as a member of the so-called Toronto 18. Religious counselling was also ordered for Aaron Driver, a Winnipeg man who tweeted support for ISIS under an alias in 2014, before his lawyer had it dropped from his bail conditions.
The Toronto man who spoke with CBC says it’s unlikely the new clinics will address his political grievances or those of others who’ve concluded that violence is their only recourse.
“I don’t care about imams,” he said. “If we want to address the scourge of terrorism in any meaningful way, we have to acknowledge the government’s role.”…