Three of Canada's most knowledgeable intelligence analysts had a public discussion on March 28 about Canada's ability to deal with Islamic radicalism coming out of the middle east and from a public security standpoint, the prognosis was less than encouraging.
Ray Boisvert, Assistant Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Doug Best, the RCMP's National Security Section Head both expressed the fear that "radicalization" was Canada's greatest national security concern. As senior members of government agencies and being consummate professionals, both men had to be circumspect about their language and neither mentioned "Islam" once. Fortunately, the Mackenzie Institutes's John Thompson was also on the panel assembled by Advocates for Civil Liberties and The Atlantic Council of Canada for their "Canada and the New Middle East" conference in Toronto. Thompson observed that as a private citizen, he did not have similar constraints limiting him to the politically correct and proved that point quickly by saying, "if you look at the history of Islam, they've managed to pick a fight with everyone they've met."
Boisvert and Best reiterated the concern of "lone actors," individual terrorists who act by themselves or in small group being difficult to predict or track. But in a nod to multicultural sensitivities, Boisvert equated Anders Breivik, the Norwegian mass murderer who acted on his own based on his own psychotic self-idealization of his being a Knight Templar with Mohammed Merah, the Jihadist murderer of three Jewish children in France earlier this month. The difference that the CSIS official didn't note is that Merah was not acting out a fantasy involving a centuries-dead Crusader Order but of a very much contemporary Islamic philosophy of terrorism in the name of religion. Far from being independent, Merah travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan to study how to actualize this ideology of murder under the tutelage of a well-structured system.
One of the challenges Canadian multiculturalism faces was articulated by Thompson's observation of a facet of Islamism that Canada has not seen from other communities. Where other communities and cultures have worked towards integrating with Canadian society, Islamists work within their community to try to prevent integration.
Yet the silver lining to all this is that while Islamism presents Canada's greatest security threat, RCMP Superintendent Best noted that eighty percent of the cases where police thwarted Canadian terror rings, the information that foiled them was provided by members of the community. In other words, Canadian Muslims are our best asset in fighting domestic Islamic terror. Thompson provided the explanation for this apparent paradox; mosques are centres of radicalism due to their being controlled and funded in a great many instances by Saudi extremists . The disconnect between Canadian Islamic leaders and the majority of Canadian Muslims is encouraging, but that trend is not absolute and radicalization at mosques does occur.
One of the disappointments encountered by young Canadian Muslims who do become recruited to radical causes abroad is that the reality of being a Islamic fighter is starkly different than the portrayal of an exciting, noble adventure that they are being sold. CSIS' Boisvert compared it to the famous South Park cartoon episode where, after watching the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, Eric Cartman and his friends went off to join Somali pirates, only to find their swashbuckling fantasy bore no resemblance to the depressing, grotty truth of their situation. Unfortunately, in the case of radicalized Canadian Muslims, by the time they find what they have gotten themselves into, they are usually past the point of no return.
Let us hope Canadian multiculturalism has not yet reached the point where we cannot find solutions to the ongoing threats posed by Islamism inside our borders.
Coming soon: How new energy finds will change Canada, the middle east and the world, creating new hope and new conflicts.