Does Canada take the threat of far-right extremism seriously?

Worth noting the contrasting assessments:

Yet the outburst of deadly racist violence in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend is not without parallels in Canada. Recent estimates suggest there are dozens of active white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups across the country.

They advocate everything from biological racism to anti-Semitism to radical libertarianism. Members of groups such as the Heritage Front, Freemen of the Land and Blood and Honour have been charged with dozens of crimes, including murder, attempted murder and assault.

Roughly 30 homicides in Canada since 1980 have been linked to individuals espousing some form of extreme right-wing ideology.​ 

But the pattern of right-wing extremist violence in Canada is too inconsistent to merit being prioritized over the threat posed by Islamic extremists, according to two former members of the security establishment.

“I do think right-wing extremism is a national security problem, but we’re not devoting the resources to it because we don’t need to,” said Phil Gurski, a former CSIS analyst who now runs a security consulting business.

“I have seen nothing to suggest that they pose an equally dangerous threat as that posed by Islamist extremism, which in and of itself is still a fairly minor threat in Canada.”

The limited national security resources devoted to right-wing extremism is also based on a belief that such groups are fractious, ideologically incoherent and engage mainly in lower-level crime such as robbery or graffiti, said Stephanie Carvin, a former national security adviser for the Canadian government.

“The violence that results [from right-wing extremist groups] tends to be dealt with more at the police level than the national security level,” said Carvin, who teaches courses about security and terrorism at Carleton University in Ottawa.

“If you just look at the sheer number of cases of individuals who are foreign [jihadist] fighters, or potential foreign fighters or returnees, it still outweighs the potential actors on the far right.”

A dangerous oversimplification?

As recently as January, just days before the deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque, a threat assessment based on input from Canada’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies determined there was “no indication that right-wing extremists pose a threat to migrants.”

CSIS’s own website says the threat posed by the extreme right has “not been a significant a problem in Canada in recent years. Those who hold such extremist views have tended to be isolated and ineffective figures.”

But the Quebec City shooting, which police believe was carried out by an individual holding anti-immigrant views, raised questions about the accuracy of the security establishment’s estimation of right-wing extremism.

James Ellis, a Vancouver-based terrorism scholar affiliated with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS), said it’s a dangerous oversimplification to portray the majority of far-right groups in Canada as too disorganized to pose a serious threat to national security.

“You’re essentially taking your eye off the ball,” said Ellis, who until recently maintained the Canadian Incident Database, which tracks acts of terrorism between 1960 and 2015.

“The data suggests that right-wing extremism is certainly on par if not exceeding the threat from Islamic terrorism cropping up within Canada itself.”

Source: Does Canada take the threat of far-right extremism seriously? – Montreal – CBC News

ICYMI – UK ‘has stripped 150 jihadists and criminals of citizenship’ | UK news | The Guardian

Given the recent attacks in the UK, hard to say that revocation acts as a deterrent:

More than 150 jihadists and other criminals have been stripped of their citizenship and banned from returning to the UK, it has been reported.

Ministers stepped up the “deprivation orders” amid fears the collapse of the so-called Islamic State terror group will lead to an influx of militants from Syria, according to the Sunday Times.

Quoting official figures and security sources, the paper said more than 40 suspects have had their right to a passport removed this year, with about 30 targeted since March.

It added those who have had their citizenship removed include gunmen and “jihadi brides” who have travelled to Syria.

 They are all dual nationals, including British-born people with parents of different nationalities, as ministers cannot take away citizenship if it would lead a suspect stateless.

A senior security source told the Sunday Times: “There’s an awful lot of people we have found who will never be coming home again. Our number one preference is to get them on trial. If we don’t think that’s possible, we use disruption techniques.”

Last week the Home Office revealed just six suspects in Britain who cannot be deported or prosecuted are subject to terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims).

The security minister, Ben Wallace, said: “Prosecution and conviction is always our preference for dealing with terrorists.

“Tpims (terrorism prevention and investigation measures) are one of a range of powers at our disposal to disrupt terrorism-related activity where prosecution is not possible.”

Source: UK ‘has stripped 150 jihadists and criminals of citizenship’ | UK news | The Guardian

From ISIS-Lands to the Netherlands: Jihadists Try to Get the Press to Help Them Come Home

Thoughtful discussion of some of the issues with respect to returning Daesh  and other fighters:

Now that the self-proclaimed caliphate of the so-called Islamic State is falling apart in Syria and Iraq, many European jihadists are looking for ways to come home—and some of the Dutch ones have been reaching out to the media, hoping it will save their lives.

Just last week two fighters contacted TV shows in the Netherlands to announce their return to Dutch soil, a third contacted the police.

The grim irony of such a ploy is obvious. Many would-be holy warriors from European backgrounds have been associated with organizations that took journalists hostage, ransomed some, tortured and beheaded others. When they thought their groups were on a roll, jihadists bragged to their Western enemies “we love death as you love life.” And all too many times in France, Britain, Belgium, and Germany they have slaughtered innocents by the score.

But the three from the Netherlands are part of a group of 10 presumed jihadists who have criminal court cases pending against them. Dutch public prosecutors believe most of them are still to be found in what’s left of ISIS-land. After a Rotterdam court recently decided they could be present at their hearing, their trial was postponed until January 2018, allowing them time to return.

A 22-year-old Dutch-Moroccan rapper known to the court as Marouane B. is one of the potential returnees. He says he is en route back to the Netherlands and a few days ago posted a rap about his intended return, singing, “I will come back one day, mama, don’t worry… I am fleeing.” (The video has since been taken down.)

In a phone call to Dutch News RTL, Marouane refused to say whether he is affiliated with ISIS or not. “I had expected to be a change factor in the civil war by fighting [Syrian dictator Bashar] Assad,” he said. “That didn’t succeed, because the world is siding with Assad, at least that’s what it looks like from here, and I always had the intention of returning after the war.”

In a similar interview, a Dutch postman turned Islamic convert turned Islamist, Victor Droste, spoke to the Dutch TV news program 1 Vandaag via Skype. Droste admitted he’d been at the front, but refused to say whether he had been fighting. He fervently denied being part of ISIS, but he looked the part, and had been publicly advocating his support for Sharia and Islamism in the year before he left the Netherlands in 2013.

The Dutch government made conscientious attempts to inform the alleged jihadists about the trial via social media like Facebook and through their relatives. The efforts didn’t fail, but they are just the beginning of awkward attempts to address what could be an enormous problem.

An estimated 300 Dutch men, women, and children are known to have traveled to the Middle East to join the ranks of various jihadist organizations, including ISIS.

European Union counterterrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove has warned that the EU as a whole will be hard-pressed to deal with some 1,500 to 2,000 fighters who may try to return as ISIS is driven out of its strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa (PDF).

Different countries are addressing the problem in different ways. According to French intelligence sources, Paris has deployed special operations forces on the ground in Syria to hunt down and kill French jihadists who could pose a threat if they return.

The latest figures from the National Dutch Terrorism Prevention Coordinator (NCTV) tell us that as of June this year, 190 who left the Netherlands managed to join ISIS, and 50 returned. Some, at least 45 jihadists, died. But most of the survivors find themselves now cornered in a flailing wannabe state, a far cry from the heroic caliphate they had been dreaming of, and death has proved less appealing when it becomes palpably real.

With the jihadists’ stories trickling in, the Dutch security services try to gauge the security risk involved if they return. Even if the men are found not guilty of participation in war crimes and/or membership of a terrorist organization, which is unlikely, they are still suffering from PTSD. Letting them loose on the society they rejected would be risky business, and not just for the Netherlands.

“We have a responsibility toward other countries, too,” says Daan Weggemans, a terrorism expert attached to Leiden University who also serves as an expert witness in terrorism court cases. “Our focus tends to be on Dutch returning jihadists, but security is all about the broader picture. The idea that Dutch jihadists would only return to the Netherlands is not right.”

Jihadists are rarely stopped by borders, and certainly not by the open frontiers on the European continent, where they can take advantage of lax security in one place to stage attacks in another.

Exchanging information among security services is crucial, says Weggemans, but there are holes. Libya, for instance, is a major route for people pouring into Europe, but hardly keeps track of who is who, and there is considerable traffic back and forth. The bomber who wrought such carnage at a teen concert in Manchester, U.K., earlier this year was a Briton with extensive ties to family—and to ISIS—in Libya.

Foreigners who would come to the Netherlands with a stream of refugees might be a risk, says Weggemans, but so are jihadists who are in touch with, say, the nephew of a friend, and end up virtually invisible to authorities in an apartment here. “Those are the returnees that I worry about,” he says.

Islamist men returning from war are a major security risk. But then what are we to do with returning wives and children? After a serious amount of brainwashing they are hardly reliable candidates for free-spirited, democratic society. Differently put, how is any person who has actively supported people who put severed heads on spikes in town squares or gays being thrown off tall buildings going to deal with, say, two men kissing in the street in Amsterdam? Or mini skirts, or the notion of equal rights for women, for that matter?

Making policy on returning children poses yet another challenge. An estimated 80 children with a Dutch background are in Syria and Iraq, with ISIS or other jihadist groups, according to the April report of the Dutch National Security Service. Fifty percent are 9 years old or older and half of them are boys.

“With the minors there is also a big element of concern,” Weggemans explains. “They could have seen or done terrible things and were possibly trained a certain way. We know quite a bit about it and such information is very important if you start to help these children… You know that some were too young to be involved, others were educated there, girls were veiled, boys in training camps. We have to think about what we do when kids come back.”

So far, the Netherlands has been spared terrorist attacks. That may in part be because of internal policy, our relative insignificance, or dumb luck. Nobody knows precisely why. But the quiet to date holds no promise for the future. As in every other country, an attack on Dutch soil could happen any moment.

“I know it’s been said many times before, but we have to acknowledge that we won’t be able to prevent all attacks.” Weggemans tells The Daily Beast. Even if you have very active security services, you simply can’t keep track of everyone.

But the challenge of the moment is what to do with those who identify themselves and ask to be treated with mercy in a liberal society after the failure of the fanatical caliphate they longed to establish.

Source: From ISIS-Lands to the Netherlands: Jihadists Try to Get the Press to Help Them Come Home

Young Islamists have ′very scant′ knowledge of Islam, study finds | DW | 11.07.2017

Interesting analysis of texts among young radicalized Muslims:

Young Muslims who become radicalized often invent a patchwork, imagined version of Islam that has little or nothing to do with the Koran. That’s the conclusion drawn by scholars at the universities of Bielefeld and Osnabrück. They’ve just published a book analyzing 5,757 messages from a WhatsApp group of 12 young men ahead of a spring 2016 terrorist attack.

The messages came from a mobile phone, seized by police, that had belonged to one of the young men involved in the attack. The researchers say that the chat offers unique insights into the radicalization process and mindset of Islamists in Germany.

The messages also illustrate the enormous differences between Islamism and Islam. Many of the self-styled “true Muslims,” the experts found, themselves have little valid knowledge of the Koran or the rest of their religion.

“The result is a kind of ‘Lego Islam’ that can be continually adapted to new requirements and in practice has nothing to do with the forms of traditional Islam practiced by the majority of mosque communities in Germany,” write co-authors Becem Dziri and Michael Kiefer.

The authors omitted the names of those involved in the chat and didn’t specify the attack, although the time reference strongly suggests that it was the bombing of a Sikh temple in Essen in April 2016. At the time it was reported that the young people involved in that attack were radicalized via social media, and three of them, all teenagers, were later convicted of attempted murder and conspiracy to murder.

Deutschland Anschlag auf Sikh Tempel in Essen (picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Kusch)Luckily no one was killed in the temple bombing

Budding Islamists mix jihad and genies

The conversations leading up to that act of violence suggest that the youths were willing to kill for a faith of which they had only a rudimentary understanding.

“The religious education within the group is very scant,” writes co-author Rauf Ceylan. “Often they didn’t even know the simplest Islamic theological basics. The members of the group are laymen and autodidacts who pick and choose information from the internet and communicate it to the rest of the group.”

Excerpts from the chats often seem like comedy sketches sprinkled with sometimes misused Arabic words and phrases and English slang. In one, a participant responds to a self-appointed leader’s call for a meeting to discuss the jama’a (group) by saying he didn’t have any Islamic clothing. The leader responds: “You can also were sweatpants or something like that. If you want I can loan you something for the day.”

Another message reveals that the author doesn’t even own a copy of Islam’s main religious text.

“I need a Koran,” he writes. “I’ll get one soon from lies [a Salafist group that gives away Korans on the street in Germany]. If I see abu nagi, I’ll tell him he’s a kafir [infidel] because he thinks erdogan [sic] is a Muslim.”

When asked what the most absurd detail of the chats was, Ceylan told DW that participants interwove the belief in magical genies in their pseudo-theology.

“Over the course of the chat protocol, you can see how a religious world gets invented in which supernatural beings can have real effects on the young men,” Ceylan said. “They take fragments of the Koran and cobble them together. That’s why we call it ‘Lego Islam.'”

Salafisten verteilen Korane (picture-alliance/dpa/B.Roessler)Salafists pass out free Korans on German streets

Careers as ‘pop preachers’

Scholars also say that the chat illustrates the process by which young Muslims get radicalized. Key is the role of the “amir,” the self-appointed leader, who “instructed” the others despite lacking any theological credentials himself.

“He’s an alpha male like you have in school,” Ceylan told Deutsche Welle. “The people who act as Salafist preachers aren’t theologians. They’re people who have sometimes failed in life, but if they have a gift for being alpha males, they can become superstars overnight. This shouldn’t be underestimated. You can make a whole career of being a pop preacher.”

The second ingredient in the making of a radical Islamist, the scholars explain, is a young person with the right biography. Emancipation from parents – becoming an adult – gets conflated with emancipation from the mainstream community as one of the “chosen ones.” Ceylan cites the example of a young man who became radical after discovering that his father was having an affair and telling his mother, which led to a divorce.

“These are fundamentally young people who are trying to overcome a crisis in their lives or a biological ruptures,” said Ceylan. “The timing is crucial. Who do I meet in this phase?”

Social media platforms often play a role in radicalizing young people

The importance of language

Ceylan says that although bogus theology is part of the problem, religious instruction is not enough to combat radicalization. He calls for more money for German language imams, psychological therapists in prisons, where many young people get radicalized, and interventions in schools.

“These young people don’t get radicalized secretly, as the chat protocols show,” Ceylan said. “Their teachers see that something’s not right. A kid grows his beard out or starts saying more and more radical things. And the parents see it before everyone else.”

Above all, Ceylan says, those who do intervene with young people susceptible to Islamism need to speak the right language.

“The characteristics of the charismatic ‘self-made’ preachers…are that they speak German, use young people’s slang, make a theatrical impression, display street credibility and present themselves cleverly. That, together with the simplicity of what they teach, makes them attractive to young people.”

Source: Young Islamists have ′very scant′ knowledge of Islam, study finds | TOP STORIES | DW | 11.07.2017

‘Before tragedy strikes’: Liberals launch centre to prevent homegrown terrorism – Politics – CBC News

Good and appropriate that it includes all forms of radicalization and violent extremism:

The federal government has launched a new centre tasked with preventing the radicalization of Canadian young people.

A special adviser will be named in the coming months to oversee the local outreach and research projects funded through the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence.

The centre will have dedicated staff, but will be located within the existing Public Safety Canada space.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Canada must become a world leader in understanding and dealing with radicalization that leads to violence, in order to retain its national character as an open, diverse society that is also safe and secure.

“The new Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence will help us do as much as humanly possible to prevent radicalization to violence before tragedy strikes,” Goodale said in a statement. “It will support and empower local leaders to develop initiatives that are suited to their community.”

Last year’s budget set aside $35 million over five years and $10 million each year after to combat radicalization and violence in Canada.

Ontario Liberal MP Arif Virani, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of heritage (multiculturalism), said the new centre will drive better research, understanding and engagement, with a special focus on youth vulnerable to radicalization. Building up trust relationships and opening lines of communication are critical to combating radicalism at the ground level, he said.

No boundaries to extremist views

The centre will not focus on Islamist extremism alone, but will cover a wide spectrum, because while some attacks are perpetrated by Islamist extremists, others target Muslims, Virani said.

“When we look at what’s happening across the country, radicalization is not endemic to any one group, institution, race or religion,” he said. “It doesn’t have particular boundaries that are tied to a religion or an ideology. That’s very important to keep in mind because that’s a situation we need be upfront about in terms of where the threats are coming from and not focusing on any one particular community.”

In January, six people were killed and 19 others injured in an attack by a gunman at a Quebec CIty mosque.

Source: ‘Before tragedy strikes’: Liberals launch centre to prevent homegrown terrorism – Politics – CBC News

Inside French Prisons, A Struggle To Combat Radicalization : NPR

Good long-read on the challenges of radicalization and French prisons:

Yannis Warrach, a Muslim cleric who works in his spare time at a top-security prison in Normandy, says prison is so brutal, inmates can only survive if they’re part of a gang. He has seen how the radicals recruit newcomers.

“The ones who preach and proselytize will at first be nice to a detainee. They see his desperation,” he says. “They’ll befriend him, give him what he needs. Then they’ll say it’s destiny. They’ll say that God has a mission for him. And little by little, they brainwash him, telling him French society has rejected him, he can’t get a job because of his Arab last name, and he was always put in the worst classes at school.

“The problem is,” says Warrach, “it’s often true.”

Warrach says these young men must have hope for a different future to break out of the spiral of failure. He says French leaders have failed to change the socioeconomic factors that keep many French people of Muslim descent on the bottom rungs of the ladder.

Another big problem, he says, is the prevalence of hard-line, Salafist reading material in jails — often French translations of Saudi, Wahhabist tracts that advocate literal, strict interpretation of religious doctrine.

“I work to debunk this stuff,” says Warrach. “I give inmates under pressure a historical context of the faith and another narrative of Islam.”

He says that because of the pressure from radicals, who consider him an agent of the French government, he has to meet secretly with inmates who desperately want his help. Instead of meeting in rooms designated for religious worship, which are open, they meet in special prison visiting rooms for inmates’ lawyers, where no one can observe them.

Because of its strict separation of religion and state, Warrach says France is the only country in Europe where being a prison cleric is not considered a profession. He says he only receives a small stipend, but that he can’t build a life around it — there are no retirement plans or other benefits. Because of this, there can’t be an imam at the prison every day, which creates a huge void, he says. And it leaves plenty of room for uninformed, extremist interpretations of Islam in French prisons.

Source: Inside French Prisons, A Struggle To Combat Radicalization : Parallels : NPR

‘It is a battle for hearts and minds’: Trudeau’s $35 million gamble to counter radicalization

No easy solutions but these approaches are part of the toolkit. Small change compared to security expenditures:

A growing number of experts are advocating for a more holistic approach to countering violent extremism — one that attempts to address community grievances and feelings of social exclusion, he said.

Still, some say the terrorist propaganda and violent narratives on the Internet and social media sites — often infused with glorious references to past and valiant warriors — cannot be ignored and efforts must be made to squarely refute  their often misleading claims.

“It is a battle for hearts and minds,” Shaikh said.

Some of this is already happening in Canada. In 2015, Public Safety Canada threw its support behind a video project, Extreme Dialogue, that highlighted the stories of individuals who had walked away from extreme Islamist groups or far-right groups, as well as family members impacted by extremism.

Last year, Montreal’s Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence created a comic book that used humour to try to address some of the underlying causes of radicalization.

But do these counter-narrative campaigns ring hollow for their intended audiences? And how do you gauge success? By clicks and web visits?

Phil Gurski, a former CSIS strategic analyst, said trying to deconstruct and counter every piece of propaganda ends up being a never-ending game of “whack-a-mole.” He suggested putting more emphasis on alternative narratives, for example, emphasizing Muslim empowerment and success stories.

But that still leaves the question of how to deal with individuals who are more deeply entrenched in their radicalization, such as foreign fighters who have returned to Canada. About 180 Canadians are known to have participated in terrorist activities overseas — mostly in Turkey, Iraq and Syria — and about 60 have returned.

If police fear someone may commit a terrorism offence, but don’t have enough evidence to charge them, they have sometimes gone to court to apply for peace bonds, which temporarily restrict an individual’s movements. But as the case of Aaron Driver showed, these bonds cannot always be relied upon to prevent violence.

Driver had been the subject of a peace bond that restricted access to his computer and cellphone and barred him from possessing firearms or explosives. Yet, last August, the Islamic State sympathizer was able to shoot a martyrdom video and get into a taxi with a homemade bomb before being shot and killed by police in Strathroy, Ont.

For those not quite as far down the path of radicalization, police in Toronto last year announced they had been experimenting with an early intervention model, not dissimilar to the one in Britain. Individuals deemed at-risk for violence are steered to “hubs” of community representatives who assess whether they might benefit from spiritual guidance, family counselling or mental-health support. Calgary police have a similar program in place.

Yet this approach creates other conundrums: Should such voluntary programs be mandatory? And should the goal be “de-radicalization” — the suppression of extreme ideology? Or is it more realistic to settle for “disengagement” — allowing a person to continue to harbour radical ideas so long as they do not resort to or support violence?

“The dangers to democracy are obvious here and not at all easy to reconcile,” Littlewood said. And, “success in one year may be undone two or three years later,” he added.

Whoever takes the helm of Canada’s new counter-radicalization office is in for a “mind-boggling” ride to try to create a coherent national framework for best practices, Gurski said.

“I don’t know if we’ll ever know what works,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.”

Chris Selley: If the Brits can handle terrorism properly, surely we sheltered Canadians can too

Selley takes down Sun columnists on their alarmist calls for internment and other measures:

Brits are reacting to the latest terrorist attacks on their soil more or less as usual, though Thursday’s election adds an extra bit of urgency and drama. Conservatives, including Prime Minister Theresa May, are calling for ramped up anti-terror measures: more surveillance, more punishment, more online censorship. “Enough is enough,” May said Sunday.

A few unreconstructed lefties still bang on about Western civilization’s just desserts, but as Terry Glavin observed in the National Post after last month’s attack in Manchester, that species of urban sophisticate is less welcome at parties than ever. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn used to be very much of the “Terrorist? Or freedom fighter?” set. With Labour shockingly competitive in the polls, he now accuses May of cheaping out on policing and supports a “shoot to kill” policy that he used to oppose.

Some are calling for much stronger measures indeed. Tarique Ghaffur, a former assistant commissioner for London’s Metropolitan Police, argues “special centres” should be set up where some 3,000 known Islamic extremists could be forcibly de-radicalized — i.e., internment camps. Professionally hysterical Daily Mail columnist Katie Hopkins, who is very un-British-ly proud of being frightened to death, is foursquare behind the idea (though she has apologized for her post-Manchester demand for a “final solution”).

“We face an unprecedented terrorist threat in Britain,” Ghaffur wrote in the Mail on Sunday. There are “way too many (potential threats) for the security services and police to monitor (otherwise).” Ghaffur conceded the precedent was not entirely compelling: the internment of nearly 2,000 Irish nationalists between 1971 and 1975 “led to hunger strikes,” he noted. “But the centres I’m proposing would be different as they would have backing from Muslim leaders.”

One rather suspects they would not. And the problem in Ireland was quite a bit larger than hunger strikes. Setting aside civil liberties and other such malarkey, it didn’t work: 1972 was the deadliest year of the Troubles. With all those suspected threats locked up, the IRA blew up pubs, hotels and army barracks across the U.K.

That took gumption and significant resources. Nowadays, it would take very little effort at all for ISIL to leverage internment as powerful inspiration for amateur jihadists who see glorious carnage to be made with a white van and kitchen knives.

Internment is a God-awful idea, but it’s at least understandable in the British context. Terrorism is hardly an existential or an unprecedented one: 2005 was the deadliest year for terrorism in the U.K. since the Troubles, and it pales by comparison. But when cars and kitchen knives become threats, the cowardly have all the more reason to hide under their beds and demand martial law so they can be comfortable going to the theatre again.

It’s quite ridiculous to see this nonsense crop up here in Canada, however, where the domestic death toll from Islamic terrorism stands at three people, all of them soldiers. “All people (who are) on terror watch list in Canada or are in terrorist rehab programs should be detained and in some cases deported,” Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington tweeted. His colleague Anthony Furey followed suit: “Get the RCMP to arrest the dozens of known jihadists now walking around freely on Canadian soil. Just do it.” Furey’s demand was all the stranger considering he wrote a column explaining how implausible it would be to build a legal case against someone for his activities in ISIL-controlled Iraq or Syria.

Sheltered as Canadians have been from these threats, there is a streak of performative unseriousness that runs through our anti-terrorism discussion. “Let ‘em go,” some chortled when Canadians were found to be heading abroad to fight for ISIL. And when they come back, what then? “Lock ‘em up,” they’ll say — but of course we can’t, or not while respecting the rule of law.

Our relative unfamiliarity with terrorism might make it understandable that we would overreact to whatever threat there is. But it’s all the more disreputable for that reason — especially considering police keep foiling plans that do exist. “Go out as you planned and enjoy yourselves,” senior U.K. anti-terrorism officer Mark Rowley advised Brits heading into last weekend — not because they had everything totally under control after Manchester, you understand, but because MI5 believed “an attack is no longer imminent.”

The Brits, by and large, went out as they planned. Overwhelmingly, Canadians seem to be doing likewise — and rightly so. The rest of us should get with the program.

Source: Chris Selley: If the Brits can handle terrorism properly, surely we sheltered Canadians can too | National Post

Countering extremism requires political honesty from Theresa May: Shaista Aziz

A valid critique of May who, after all, was Home Secretary for six years before becoming PM:

And what of the woman who wants to be elected Prime Minister when the U.K. goes to the polls in three days time?

Theresa May has shown that she is not interested in looking for real and meaningful solutions to deal with the new reality that terrorism poses to the lives of British people. Instead, she has hit repeat, saying there is “too much tolerance of extremism” in the U.K. – implying that British Muslims have turned a blind eye to individuals pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, trotting out the tired-out trope that British Muslims are the only ones who can stop the terrorists.

Such a claim disregards that the Manchester bomber, Salman Abeidi, was flagged to the authorities at least five times as an individual who was showing signs of radicalization. The same pattern is being repeated (so far) following the London attack, with reports that locals contacted the police two years ago to report the individual believed to be the terrorist ring leader.

After the London attack, Ms. May responded by saying “enough is enough,” and I couldn’t agree with her more: enough is enough, Ms. May.

Enough of the police cuts that have removed 20,000 officers from our streets, including community police officers. We need a properly funded police service to deal with the terrorism threats to our country.

Enough of the narrative that there is an us and them when it comes to tackling terrorism – there is only we.

The U.K. is deeply polarized, and there is a growing trust deficit between many of our politicians and the people. Empty sound bites will do nothing to heal these divisions.

Nobody in this country tolerates extremists, other than extremists.

And enough is enough of Britain’s blind support for the likes of the Saudi Arabian government, responsible for promoting extremism and its sectarian agenda around the world.

If Theresa May is serious about tackling extremism, she will ensure the long-delayed inquiry report into foreign funding and support of jihadi groups in the U.K. will be released immediately.

We are judged by the company we keep and by our actions. It is time for Ms. May to walk the walk and not just talk the talk on countering extremism.

Source: Countering extremism requires political honesty from Theresa May – The Globe and Mail

Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) chief says radical Sunni Islam creates terrorists, not being a refugee | Australia news | The Guardian

Spymasters versus demagogues:

The head of Australia’s spy agency, Duncan Lewis, says people become terrorists because they adhere to a violent interpretation of Sunni Islam, not because they are refugees.

Lewis has come under intense pressure from conservative commentators, including the News Corporation columnist and Sky News broadcaster Andrew Bolt, after his response to questions from the One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, on 26 May about whether there was a connection between terrorism and refugees.

The Asio chief told Hanson at Senate estimates last week he had no evidence of any connection. He said the source of terrorism wasn’t Australia’s refugee program, but “radical Sunni Islam”.

Bolt’s critique was echoed by the former prime minister, Tony Abbott, who suggested Lewis was tiptoeing around the subject. “Asio has to command the confidence of the Australian community, and that’s why you’ve got to be open and upfront about these things,” he told 2GB.

Hanson later told 2GB the response from Lewis at estimates was “not what the Australian public want to hear”.

She was “gobsmacked” by his evidence at estimates.

On Wednesday morning Lewis had a rare public interview with the ABC. He stood by the evidence he gave last week, but provided some more context.

“We have had tens of thousands of refugees come to Australia over the last decade or so and a very few of them have become subjects of interest for Asio and have been involved in terrorist planning,” he said.

“I’m not denying that. I’ve not said that there are no terrorists who have not been refugees or who have not been the sons and daughters of refugees born in this country.

“But the context is very important. The reason they are terrorists is not because they are refugees but because of the violent, extremist interpretation of Sunni Islam that they have adopted.”

Lewis said sons and daughters of refugees were “in the group that have resorted to radicalisation but I think it is very wrong to say that it is because of their refugee status”.

“They are radicalised for different reasons,” he said.

He said he had no intention of appearing contemptuous of Hanson’s line of questioning: “The point I am making is we need to stick to the facts.”

Source: Asio chief says radical Sunni Islam creates terrorists, not being a refugee | Australia news | The Guardian