Monday, April 28, 2014

In Search of Cause and Elusive Solutions

"This is a message to Canada and all the American tyrants: We are coming and we will destroy you. With permission from Allah the almighty, we will bring you slaughter."
Canadian Jihadi in Syria to serve Allah

"I would say that there are ongoing investigations with respect to individuals that are involved in facilitating [aiding in recruiting Canadians to fight in Syria].
Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, RCMP counterterrorism program
Todd Korol for National Post
Todd Korol for National Post The prayer centre musallah at 8th and 8th south west in Calgary, Alberta, April 24, 2014. The storefront Islamic centre in downtown Calgary where Damian Clairmont spent much of his time before leaving for Syria.
Mr. Malizia explains that while some extremist Islamists given to violent jihad had been radicalized over the Internet and made their way on their own to Syria, 'facilitators' also have helped to connect potential recruits with armed opposition groups. They "facilitate movement and in some cases provide funding."

The RCMP is still investigating, trying to understand who it is, how it was, where it was, and why it was that Calgarian Damian Clairmont found his life-work in adapting to Islam, finding a new purpose in life, not just finding comfort with the religion, but pledging to dedicate himself to advancing the cause of jihad because of a belief he embraced that the West was at war with Islam, and the faithful had an obligation to fend off their oppressors.

Those oppressors included false Muslims who surrendered their belief in a just and faithful Islam, to one tempered by Western precepts and values, corrupting Islamic beliefs and themselves in the process. And no better exemplar could be found, he seemed to believe, than the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. And those among the rebels whose opposition to the regime was faulted because they were no better than the regime in their outlook and values.

Leading to battles between the rebel Syrian opposition to the regime and the foreign Islamists who entered the fray to dislodge the Alawite Shiite regime, and at the same time violently opposed the rebels who "kill, rape, steal, use/sell drugs and often even collaborate with the regime", according to a message from then 22-year-old Damian Clairmont, from Syria, using the nom de guerre Abu Talha Al Kanadi, fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The attacks between those rival opposition factors were a side issue, he wrote. As for the Al-Qaeda-linked fighters whom he had joined: "They are clearly dominant everywhere you go, but they do not steal or rape or sell drugs or murder or kidnap for ransom and so on. They are also the most effective fighting forces here and are in many cases single-handedly holding off the regime and their friends in many places, while many others sit in their bases getting fat off crime and foreign money/aid."

He was engaged in doing "important life-changing work", among the Islamists, he insisted. His faith "stronger than ever", he was himself "fitter than ever", his Arabic improving constantly.  He was "given a position of responsibility", his mother was informed by someone called Abu Tarab, in Jarabulus, a city on the Turkish border controlled by ISIS. "I am finally where I belong", he wrote to his mother.

He also died there, in a skirmish between the Syrian rebels and ISIS. It is the mystery of his recruitment that bedevils Canadian security authorities, and how to prevent such recruitment for the future, not only to protect Canadian citizens from themselves when they succumb to the recruiters' assurances of duty to Islam, but to protect the wider Canadian society from returning jihadists seeking to promote the principle of jihad within Canada.

"Most people in the masjid [mosque] know him" said Said Awar, a worker at Calgary Shwarma, just down the street from the 8th & 8th prayer centre and mosque. The young convert to Islam would constantly read books on Islam and obviously relish and cherish the concept that Allah is the one and only god. That he had a mentor, someone who inspired and led him to the firmness of his fanaticism is what concerns the investigators.

His mother was informed by CSIS officers they were searching into the presence of a "ringleader", someone who was responsible for recruiting a number of young men into jihad. The photograph they showed her was of a stranger. The name Badi Hammadieh, a Syrian Canadian living in Calgary for decades came up. His family owns a vacuum shop where a man at work there informed a reporter that all journalists were biased against Islam.

Mr. Hammadieh insisted he had nothing to do with sending Damian Clairmont to Syria: "That's not the way it is. I already talked to CSIS about this. He was self-driven. If anyone was pushing him, he was pushing himself", he asserted when confronted by an enquiring journalist gathering information for a revealing story about recruiting for jihad in Canada.

"The Canadian government is not doing enough to stop this brainwashing", declared Imam Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada. "It's going on right under their nose." As far as he is concerned there are those who preach an 'intolerant' form of Islam. "They're not going to say go and bomb this place, but the way they preach develops a mindset that is very hateful to non-Muslims and Muslims who do not agree with them", he said.

So then, as far as this Muslim cleric who rails against extremism publicly is concerned, the fault lies not with Islam, not with the values inherent in the primary precepts of Islam, not in the manner that he personally presents Islam to impressionable young Muslims looking for leadership, but with the intelligence services of the Government of Canada.

The solution then, must be to follow every sermon that takes place in every mosque, to see whether the clerics ensconced there promulgate an incorrect version of Islam. And while they're at it, there should be undercover agents in madrassas and social centres, parochial schools and anywhere Muslims gather to ensure that no one is indulging in covert messages to convert pious Muslims to action on the most prevalent expression of Islamic principles summed up in jihad.

Were that to happen, even on a controlled and discreet scale, the howls of prejudice and Islamophobia would reverberate off every mosque in the country, with civil libertarians supporting an outraged Muslim community and leftist academics and labour unions marching in solidarity with their beleaguered Muslim brethren in opposition to government attempts to 'besmirch' an entire demographic of Canadian society.

Labels: , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet