Recent terror threats have been stopped, but we have refused to heed the warnings
By David Harris, Ottawa Citizen Special
This is your future. That was my wretched thought on behalf of Canadians as I watched Thursday’s Project Samossa news conference.
Samossa was the major national security investigation that erupted this week in counterterrorism raids and the arrest of four Muslim-Canadians. The government’s charges against three of them imply a wealth of evidence that will shock the conscience of Canadians.
These charges and limited revelations suggest that we could be front-row witnesses to the most vile of manifestations of the Islamist jihad in this country. The allegation is that people living among us and enjoying the immense privileges of Canadian citizenship, are siding with enemy forces aiming to kill and maim our boys and girls serving in Afghanistan — and maybe residents of Ottawa and other Canadian centres, too.
We shouldn’t be surprised.
The Toronto 18 showed us the savagery of the 7th-century war that is being imported into our 21st-century neighbourhoods. Defendants included those who should have been a credit to educated youth. From some we would have expected gratitude of immigrants who had been welcomed to a gentle and generous nation. Canadians’ reward was instead a conspiracy to rent Toronto with explosives, and blast our Parliament with invasion and a prime ministerial beheading.
Further hints — and only hints — of our growing predicament come from a series of recent convictions.
Think of Momin Khawaja, the handsome Department of Foreign Affairs software consultant and moonlighter in international bomb-making. Then there was Said Namouh, Quebec-based Moroccan bomb-plotter, and the Groupe Fatah Kamel, which drove a French counterterror magistrate to pin Canada as an international centre of North African Islamic extremism.
These threats were headed off by good luck and good security work, but are auguries of future violence, economy-defying instability and further pressure on civil liberties.
But why must this be our future? Because we refuse to heed warnings, learn basic lessons and act in a responsible way to preserve our well-being.
To understand this in the context of Islamic radicalism is to account properly for the main sources of Canada’s escalating extremism. These sources are immigration and refugee influxes, and the homegrown extremist phenomenon.
Liberal politicians long ago turned immigration and refugee streams into vote-importing mechanisms. Conservatives continue to do so at the expense of Canadians’ safety and tens of billions in net per annum immigration costs, plus attendant and overwhelming security costs. So pronounced is the pathology that not even a terrible recession could prevent Immigration Minister Jason Kenney from hiking immigration and refugee levels from what were already roughly the highest per capita in the world. These levels are too great to allow for reliable vetting in a world where war and ideological struggles rage, and we are a target.
Then there is the near-intractable problem of homegrown or self-radicalizing extremism. Here, we need vigorous efforts by Muslims to take up the work of Dr. Tawfik Hamid and others. They must interpret constructively the portions of the Koran and Hadiths that are routinely invoked to justify brutalizing infidels and non-radical Muslims. This requires challenging those people who embrace the Koranic interpretative doctrine of abrogation by which later militant “sword verses” can supersede earlier, more open and charitable verses.
As part of this, we must put a halt to Saudi funding and similar fundamentalist influence in Canada’s Islamic and other institutions. Most emphatically, Islamist front organizations and fellow-travelling “Islamic rights” groups should be barred from the legitimizing table of security outreach.
Outreach has difficulties, and there is concern that some of our police and other security elements may be taking the easy way out when it comes to counterradicalizing and connecting with interest groups. The useful tool of community policing periodically metastasizes into unhealthy outreach programs with Islamic front organizations, as officials seek to appease and humour the louder — and sometimes aggressive — influences.
At the Samossa press conference, Ottawa police Chief Vern White inadvertently illustrated the problem in response to a question about reported privileged terrorism briefings for “leaders” of Ottawa’s Muslim community, among a few others. The chief asserted that this private access, part of ongoing community outreach, was to reassure fearful members of “certain communities” that they would not be subject to “backlash.” A reflection of the new politically correct policing, this remark suggests that some officials are accepting and feeding the Islamist victimology hype that has been repeatedly debunked by statistics showing that blacks and Jews continue to be the main targets of bigotry.
Are we prepared to accept this as our future?
A lawyer with 30 years in intelligence affairs, David Harris is director of the intelligence program INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc. He has consulted with intelligence organizations in Canada and abroad and served with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service in 1988-90.
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