We need to do a better job combatting cultural institutions that recruit, radicalize and spread a hateful ideology throughout our communities.
(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
By: Candice Malcolm
Returned ISIS fighters join the ranks of a hidden class of enemy citizens secretly embedded in our society. These radical agents have built their own infrastructure, and use our openness and freedom to wage war against us.
Of course, most Muslims in North America are not part of this covert network. In Canada, large majorities explicitly reject the Islamist ideology.
According to an in-depth Environics report, 88% of Muslims in Canada say it is important for the Muslim community to work with government agencies to address radicalization and violent extremism. By contrast, roughly two-thirds of British Muslims say they would not work with police or report terrorism in their communities.
Fortunately, most Muslims in Canada have integrated and joined the Canadian family. That does, however, leave an unfortunate group of Canadian Muslims who remain loyal to enemy forces.
British scholar and author Maajid Nawaz discusses the differences between everyday Muslims who are our friends and allies, and nefarious Muslims who have subscribed to an evil worldview. Nawaz’s guide for defining the terrorist threat draws the distinction between Muslims, Islamists and jihadists.
Muslims are individual followers of the Muslim faith; their beliefs are private and in the public realm, they embrace secular values and Western institutions.
Islamists, by contrast, are Muslims who do not separate politics from religion. They want to impose their fundamentalist doctrine of Islam onto our society to create a Muslim theocracy governed by Sharia Law.
Of these Islamists, a smaller percentage are jihadists who believe in using force and violence to advance their political goals. They see themselves as frontline fighters, waging a war of civilizations against the West.
Every jihadist is supported by a larger community of Islamists. For every male fighter who joined the ranks of ISIS, he’s often accompanied by a wife and family who are just as fervent and devoted to the Islamist cause.
Jihadists are the top concern for government security agencies across the West, and we use endless resources to monitor these agents and try to prevent the next attack. But that often means we neglect the wider network of Islamists who are covertly building support networks and cultural institution to advance their evil cause, hidden in plain sight.
Take, for instance, the Islamic Society of British Columbia, which was recently penalized by the CRA and was alleged to have a relationship with a Qatari organization that supports jihadist terrorism.
CRA audit documents obtained by Global News found that the Eid Foundation of Qatar, which is alleged to have ties to a terrorist organization, “maintained some level of control or influence over the affairs” of the Islamic Society of British Columbia.
Likewise, a 2008 court filing in Dallas, Texas, revealed that the Islamic Society of North America has ties to the Islamist terrorist group Hamas; they even admitted to financial transactions during the 1980s and 1990s.
The Muslim Students Association (MSA) is also alleged to be tied to this Islamist network, and was once described by the New York Police Department as “part of a growing trend of Salafi-based radicalization.” MSA has a long list of alumni-turned-terrorist, including Ahmed Khadr, Omar’s father, who was accused of being Osama bin Laden’s Canadian financier.
Jihadists distract us, while their Islamist networks sow the seeds of extremism in our own backyards. We need a better approach to combat these cultural institutions that recruit, radicalize and spread a hateful ideology throughout our communities.