Iraq wants anti-ISIS coalition’s bombing campaign stepped up as terror group goes back on offensive

OTTAWA — The Iraqi government wants the U.S., Canada and other coalition countries involved in the campaign against Islamic State forces to step up their bombing.

Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has gone on the attack again in three different locations in the country over the last several days. Just last week Canadian military officers said the extremist group, which has seized large parts of Iraq, had been blunted and was on its “back foot.”

Brig.-Gen. Dan Constable, who commands Joint Task Force Iraq, told journalists at that time that ISIS has failed to launch any offensives or large-scale pushes on the ground. As a result, he said, the militant force was on its back foot.

The term “back foot” is a familiar one, once used by Canadian officers to describe how the Taliban in Afghanistan were on the verge of defeat.

But on Thursday, Navy Capt. Paul Forget of Canadian Joint Operations Command acknowledged to reporters that ISIS had gone on the offensive in a number of locations. He did not know why that was but noted that ISIS’s actions will make its forces prone to attacks from CF-18 fighter jets.

“The fact they have taken the offensive has forced them to expose themselves more, thus allowing our fighters to detect them on the ground and engage them accordingly,” he explained.

Forget said he was aware of the Iraqi request provided to the coalition to increase the number of bombing raids. Canada, he said, is continually reassessing what it can contribute to the U.S.-led coalition.

Johanna Quinney, spokeswoman for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, stated in an email that Canada is one of many countries involved in the air strike campaign. “Our ongoing contribution continues to be evaluated based on coalition needs,” she noted.

‘Until now our feeling is that the international support is not convincing’

The operations involving CF-18s and other aircraft in Iraq “demonstrate our firm resolve to address the threat of terrorism and stand by our allies in the fight against ISIL,” Quinney added.

On Tuesday Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi met with retired general John Allen, the U.S. special envoy who is co-ordinating coalition war efforts.

Abadi’s office later issued a statement requesting the coalition “increase the tempo of the effective air strikes on Islamic State positions.” It also called on the alliance’s training campaign for Iraqi security forces to be further expanded.

Speaker of the Iraqi parliament Selim al-Jabouri delivered a similar message to Allen.

“Until now our feeling is that the international support is not convincing,” Jabouri told Reuters on Wednesday. “We might see participation here or there, but it is not enough for the tough situation we are passing through.”

Iraqi analysts say that ISIS has endured months of U.S.-led airstrikes but has lost little of the territory it had seized earlier in the year. Islamic State, supported by some Iraqi-Sunni tribes upset by their treatment at the hands of the Shia-dominated central government, had taken control of large areas of Iraq.

The situation now is seen as a stalemate by a number of security experts in Iraq.

U.S. Lt.-Gen. James Terry, who commands American forces fighting ISIS, has said it will “at least take a minimum of three years” to reach a turning point against insurgent forces.

There are 600 Canadian military personnel involved in the Iraq mission. Those include a small number of special forces in northern Iraq and aircrew in Kuwait who are supporting and operating six CF-18 fighter jets, two CP-140 Aurora reconnaissance aircraft and a CC-150 Polaris in-air refuelling tanker.

The government has committed Canada to the Iraq mission for six months but it is expected that it will be extended.

Barbara Kay: Quebec’s face-cover Bill is not a return to the ‘Values’ war

Jacques Boissinot/CP

It was with a great sigh of relief that all right-thinking Quebecers saw the PQ crash and burn in last spring’s election. The authors of their own defeat, the PQ’s primary strategy had been, via a “values” charter, to stir up animosity, in the name of nationalism, towards members of religious groups that demonstrated love of their faith through visible accessories, notably the Jewish kippa, the Muslim hijab and the Christian cross.

The proposed charter would have banned such symbolism in public services. But in spite of most Quebecers’ firm commitment to secularism in the public domain, the Charter went too far in the proposed suppression of freedom of expression for popular comfort.

The niqab is not simply #4 on a list of religious symbols.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard campaigned on a far more inclusive platform that reassured targeted minorities of their secure place in Quebec society, which helped to win his party a majority government. But he did not entirely reject the legitimacy of the need for a gesture articulating the line between freedom of expression and behaviour – or to be more precise, what one might call sartorial lamination – that is considered unseemly in a free society. I speak, of course, of the veiled face, or the niqab.

In today’s National Post, the editorial takes M. Couillard to task for moving forward on his promise to regulate against face cover in the giving and receiving of public services. The editorial errs, though, in suggesting that the regulation was prompted by Mme Marois’ Charter, stating that “the only reason ‘values’ were ever in the spotlight was because the PQ spotted a wedge issue.” That is not the case at all where face cover is concerned.

Jacques Boissinot/CPQuebec Premier Philippe Couillard: Reviving a ban on face cover

M. Couillard is merely reviving Bill 94, which was tabled in 2010. Bill 94 proscribed face cover for women in service-providing government institutions, including licence bureaus, hospitals, schools, courts, and other institutions that represent the official face of Quebec. The principle behind Bill 94 was a refusal to endorse the lower status of women that is represented by the veil. As Quebec immigration minister Yolande James forthrightly put it at the time, “if you want to integrate into Quebec society, here are our values. We want to see your face.”

While the PQ’s Charter of Values received but tepid support in Quebec, according to polls of the time, Bill 94 was approved of by more than 90% of Quebecers. Indeed, Bill 94 was approved of by 74% of Canadians. Virtually all Quebecers, and the vast majority of Canadians understand that the niqab is not simply #4 on a list of religious symbols. Face cover is sui generis. It strikes to the heart of social reciprocity, which is the basis of a healthy society.

The niqab is not a religious obligation; it is a cultural custom. It is not “clothing”; it is a mask. It is not politically innocent; it is associated with a form of Islam that endorses the oppression of women. In Europe, moreover, the niqab had also been adopted by extremists as an overt political statement in support of radical Islam, and that was the main, and certainly justifiable, impetus for banning it. The fact that we have not seen mass violence in Canada or that Canada’s immigration situation does not resemble France’s or Belgium’s is irrelevant to the niqab debate. One doesn’t need to suffer violence to feel psychologically intimidated, precisely what the niqab’s effect is on those Canadians who refuse to be dictated to by political correctness.

Nothing reduces a woman’s opportunities to integrate into public life more than a face veil, which advertises her lack of personhood. Many women – we don’t know the numbers, but one is surely too many – are forced to wear the veil. Of those who wear it voluntarily, many if not most have never been exposed to gender equality as a norm, and have no idea what a “human right” is. We do them no favours by endorsing their continued ignorance.

The niqab is not a “values” issue. It is a “principles” issue. Either we believe in gender equality or we do not. Either we believe that in a free society, citizens show their faces to one another in trust, or we do not. Either we are a democratic rather than a tribal society, or we are not. We do not permit public nakedness because we are not animals. We should not permit full cover because we are not things. M. Couillard is fulfilling a principled promise that was made five years ago, and he is right to do so.

National Post

Ottawa man arrested on terrorism charges along with twin was on RCMP radar since 2013

Sketch by Laurie Foster-MacLeod for Postmedia News

OTTAWA — One of the identical twins charged with terrorism-related offences who RCMP say was on their radar for more than a year “drifted in and out” of an Ottawa mosque in recent years.

Abdulhakim Moalimishak, the president of the east-end Assalaam mosque, recalled that Ashton Larmond, 24, attended the mosque during Ramadan in 2013 but was not a member of the congregation.

“I saw him in the crowds. He didn’t come regularly. He drifted in and out,” Mr. Moalimishak said. He said Larmond attended alone and wasn’t with his twin who is co-accused in what police say is a conspiracy to participate in the activities of a terrorist group.

RCMP allege that between the end of August 2013 and up until his arrest on Friday, Ashton Larmond participated in the activity of a terrorist group. Police, however, remain tight-lipped on what exactly they believe Ashton and twin Carlos Larmond participated in and on behalf of which specific terrorist group. The charges relating to their alleged conspiracy to participate in the activity only date back to August, 2014.

News of their arrests Friday night ricocheted through Ottawa’s Muslim community over the weekend, with several of its leaders saying they didn’t know the 24-year-old brothers.

Sketch by Laurie Foster-MacLeod for Postmedia NewsCarlos and Ashton Larmond.

Mr. Moalimishak condemned what he called a disturbing pattern of young Muslim men going overseas to wage a campaign of killing based on a “warped” version of Islam.

The president acknowledged that radicalized Muslims are a pressing concern and will sometimes try to find legitimacy by attending mainstream mosques, and when that happens, he said, RCMP are called.

Police were called in October after Luqman Abdunnur, 39, allegedly tried to assault the imam as the spiritual leader denounced terrorism in his sermon. He said Mr. Abdunnur had to be restrained by members of the congregation as he ranted that terrorist groups were his heroes.

Mr. Abdunnur was arrested days later in an unrelated traffic stop, during which a shot was fired by Ontario Provincial Police, and has been charged with assaulting a police officer. He was under police surveillance as part of a national security investigation.

Mr. Moalimishak said Mr. Abdunnur was not a member of his Sunni congregation, but like Ashton Larmond he had attended the mosque a few times.

Mr. Abdunnur’s mother, Michelle Walrond, believes moderate Muslim voices are being drowned out in Canada and what’s making the most noise is a brand of religion that is dangerous.

“Muslims whose Islam is based on intellect and scholarship, we have no voice; we’re not identified as Muslim,” Ms. Walrond told the Citizen the day after the Larmonds were arrested.

She believes Wahhabism, an ultraconservative brand of Islam, has taken over the dialogue in many mosques through extensive Saudi Arabian funding.

Muslim leaders on the weekend reacted in fear that young people in Ottawa had fallen prey to Islamic extremists.

Neighbours and friends say the Larmond brothers are both recent converts to Islam. The alleged acts of those who are young and new to the faith are troubling mainstream leaders.

“That is a problem and we have to figure out how to address this,” Mr. Moalimishak said. “There are thousands of people who convert to Islam every year and they are perfectly knowledgeable, but there is now a growing subgroup amongst the converts. Not only are they not coming to our mosques for help … but they seem to be under the control of these groups of extreme, radical, self-segregating, almost cult-like groups who are just basically grabbing them, stacking them up, and before you know it, they’re gone.”

He said mosques need to offer young new Muslims support.

“We have to give them guidance. We have to tell them there are groups out there who will prey upon them and they are not the people they want to associate with.”

Imtiaz Ahmed, a local Ahmadiyya imam who helped launch the anti-radicalization speaking series Stop the CrISIS, said leaders “need to act fast and act jointly to stop so many Canadians getting radicalized.”

Postmedia News

Ottawa ‘closely monitoring’ as video repeats ISIS calls for Canada attacks

Security agencies were “closely monitoring” the situation after a video repeating calls by ISIS to kill Canadian civilians, police and members of the military was posted on the Internet, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said on Sunday.

The video showed footage of the attack on Parliament Hill as well as last week’s killings in Paris, and quoted from a statement issued last September by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad Al Adnani calling for terrorist attacks in the West.

While the 9-minute video was a compilation of earlier threats made by ISIS, and was not an official ISIS release, it specifically named Canada and, coming after the Paris attacks and the killings of Canadian Forces members, police were taking no chances.

“Given the recent terror attacks in France and in Canada, this new threat should be taken seriously,” the RCMP said in a message sent to members on Saturday after the video appeared on a Twitter account that has since been suspended.

“Because members of law enforcement are clearly mentioned by ISIS as priority targets, it is critical that you exercise a heightened level of caution and vigilance when carrying out your duties,” Deputy Commissioner Mike Cabana wrote.

The video surfaced a day after the RCMP arrested twin brothers from Ottawa on multiple counts of terrorism — one of whom was stopped as he was allegedly about to board a flight to Frankfurt, raising flags he may have been heading for Syria.

Carlos Larmond, 24, was ticketed to transit through Germany to India but authorities suspected the second leg of his trip may have been a ruse. Frankfurt is a popular travel hub for Western extremists on their way to Syria and Iraq via Turkey.

Arrested Friday at Montreal’s Trudeau airport, he has been charged with two terrorism-related counts: participation in the activity of a terrorist group and attempting to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activity abroad.

His twin brother Ashton Carleton Larmond was arrested in Ottawa and has been charged with facilitating terrorist activity, participation in the activity of a terrorist group and instructing to carry out activity for a terrorist group.

“Canada will not be intimidated and stands firm against terrorists who would threaten our peace, freedom and democracy,” Mr. Blaney said in response to the latest pro-ISIS video. “While I cannot comment on operational matters, we will not hesitate to take all appropriate actions to counter any terrorist threat to Canada, its citizens and its interests around the world.”

The last ISIS video threat to Canada was made by John Maguire, a radicalized Ottawa Muslim convert who allegedly knew the Larmond brothers. It said that Canadians would be indiscriminately targeted and that Muslims were obliged to either join ISIS or “follow the example” of the attackers who struck in Ottawa and Quebec.

“My clients intend to vigorously defend these allegations,” the Larmonds’ defence lawyer, Joseph Addelman, said Saturday outside the Ottawa courthouse where the brothers made their first appearances.

“This is going to be a case where we are going to determine how much value the Canadian system truly places on freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion and these matters will be determined in court.”

Asked by a reporter where Carlos Larmond had intended to travel when he was arrested, Mr. Addelman said the Crown had not yet disclosed those details. The RCMP declined to comment on Mr. Larmond’s suspected travel plans.

She’s done everything for them, and for them to turn around and [allegedly] do something like this, it’s just awful

“We’re not revealing the cities or destinations where he was heading at this time,” said Sgt. Richard Rollings, an RCMP spokesman. The RCMP press release said only that he was arrested “as he was intending to travel overseas for terrorist purposes.”

Police have been struggling to track more than 100 Canadians whom they suspect have adopted violent extremist beliefs and may attempt to travel abroad to engage in terrorism. Syria and Iraq are currently the top destinations.

The threat is two-fold: that those who leave could return to conduct Paris-style attacks; and that those unable to leave could carry out simple but deadly acts of terrorism such as the October killings of Canadian Forces members.

Since the murders in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, Canadian counter-terrorism officials have ramped up their investigations, adding hundreds of officers to Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams across the country.

“Through collaborative efforts with our partners, we were able to prevent these individuals from leaving Canada to engage in terrorist activity overseas,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, officer in charge of federal policing operations, said in a statement.

The charges against the hockey player twins relate to alleged terrorist activities that occurred since last August. The five-month investigation was conducted by the RCMP, Ottawa Police Service and Ontario Provincial Police.

The Larmond twins were raised by their grandmother, Linda Brennan, in the Ottawa suburb of Vanier and attended Rideau High School. “She’s done everything for them, and for them to turn around and [allegedly] do something like this, it’s just awful,” a neighbor told the Ottawa Citizen.

“You’d never see them apart,” said another neighbour. “If one’s walking down the street, the other’s not far behind.”

Nearly five years ago, the woman said she heard one of the brothers had a Muslim girlfriend and was looking to convert. “Whatever one does, the other does, too,” she said.

A former hockey teammate, who asked to be identified only as Doug, said Ashton Larmond had played on his team in the Minto Adult Hockey League. He recalled that while they waited for the Zamboni to finish clearing the ice in late 2013, a police officer had walked past, prompting Ashton to tell Doug that he was a newly converted Muslim and he was being watched by the RCMP.

“They’re all watching me because I’m a new Muslim and they think I’m doing stuff when I’m not doing stuff,” Doug recalled Ashton telling him. “He said to me that he wasn’t doing anything and that the RCMP was stupid,” Doug said.

The team soon grew to have difficulties with the young man. “He had a lot of anger on the ice. He would smash his stick on the board if he didn’t get passed [the puck] when he wanted it. He was very vocal about things so we had some inner team fighting around him,” Doug said. “He seemed like a pretty nice guy, to be honest.”

But as the season progressed, seemingly insignificant squabbles began to surface. One erupted into a larger dispute where Ashton claimed the team captain owed him $20. The team chose to kick him off the team.

The Larmonds were scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 12.

National Post, with files from the Ottawa Citizen

Tight security at Harper’s speech marking Sir John A. Macdonald’s 200th birthday

KINGSTON, Ont. — Prime Minister Stephen Harper celebrated the 200th anniversary of Canada’s founding father — Sir John A. Macdonald — by stating so much good came from what he called an ordinary man of whom little was expected.

“Without Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada — the best country in the world — simply would not exist,” Harper told a crowd of dignitaries under tight security at Kingston City Hall in eastern Ontario.

It was a decidedly non-partisan event — with former Liberal prime minister John Turner and Progressive Conservative Kim Campbell in attendance — but Harper’s comments dovetailed with his Conservative party election message this year that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is unready to govern despite his high-profile name.

Harper praised Macdonald’s vision and leadership while acknowledging his well-known history as a heavy drinker.

“As Canadians we’ve insisted on understanding even our greatest citizens as human beings,” Harper said. “Macdonald was acutely aware of his own humanity and as a consequence very forgiving of it in others.”

The prime minister is expected to call a vote by next October’s fixed election date, and his every appearance now appears groomed to that goal.

Harper did not make himself available to the large media contingent on hand for the event and did not take questions from reporters.

With files from National Post staff

Sure, John A. Macdonald was a racist, colonizer and misogynist — but so were most Canadians back then

Library and Archives Canada
Library and Archives CanadaJohn A. Macdonald was aboriginal affairs minister for 10 years — from 1878 to 1888 — and is often blamed for laying the institutional groundwork for today’s First Nations’ troubles.

In 1887, the first of Vancouver’s many anti-Chinese riots had just broken out when Sir John A. Macdonald stood up in the House of Commons to propose further measures to keep out the Chinese.

The Chinese took white jobs, he said. The Chinese would breed a “mongrel” race in British Columbia and threaten the “Aryan” character of the Dominion. Altogether, the prospect of having white working classes living alongside Chinese could lead only to “evil.”

But in an odd aside, Macdonald admitted that he was supporting the policy largely because he was running a country full of racists.

“On the whole, it is considered not advantageous to the country that the Chinese should come and settle in Canada,” said Macdonald. “That may be right or it may be wrong, it may be prejudice or otherwise, but the prejudice is near universal.”

Although they were laying the groundwork for one of the world’s most tolerant nations, the Canadians of 1867 largely took white supremacy for granted. Blacks were barred from staying in Toronto hotels. The average British Columbian saw Asians as a threat to racial purity. And almost everybody was fine with the expectation that the native way of life would soon be extinct.

On Sir John A. Macdonald’s 200th birthday, the country’s founding prime minister has no shortage of critics to deem him a racist, a colonizer and a misogynist. They’re right on all counts, but the man who founded Canada was the product of an age that made Archie Bunker look like Mohandas Gandhi.

“This is unfair, they didn’t know the things we know,” said Don Smith, a historian at the University of Calgary, responding to modern-day criticism of Macdonald.

Richard Gwyn, the author of a bestselling two-volume biography of Macdonald, warned in a recent piece for The Walrus that Canadians are lazily using the country’s founder as a “scapegoat” for the sins of the past.

“While Macdonald did make mistakes, so did Canadians, collectively,” he said.

Criticisms of Macdonald generally centre on his policies concerning non-white Canadians. In short, he worked to keep out the Chinese, smashed Métis rebellions and set Canadian First Nations on track to decades of poverty and isolation.

But almost nobody gets a pass in 19th century Canada.

George Brown, Macdonald’s chief political rival, had a solid anti-slavery track record and urged racial harmony between Toronto’s whites and blacks.

At the same time, though, he also told Torontonians to distrust Jews, Catholics and the Irish. As refugees from the Irish Famine streamed into British North America, Brown wrote that these half-starved migrants were as much of a curse on Canada as “were the locusts to the land of Egypt.”

‘First Nations people in Saskatchewan, I would bet you $5 to a person, consider Macdonald the agent of their subjugation’

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Macdonald’s Liberal successor, was famously responsible for boosting the Chinese head tax to $500 in 1903.

In 1886, Laurier told the House of Commons that it was moral for Canada to take lands from “savage nations” so long as they paid adequate compensation.

A native-ruled Canada would “forever have remained barren and unproductive, but which under civilised rule would afford homes and happiness to teeming millions,” he said.

Below the border, even Abraham Lincoln, Macdonald’s 1860s contemporary, held the view that as soon as the Civil War was over, the United States should get to work shipping all its black people back to Africa.

As the 16th president said in 1858, “there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.”

Compared to the age he inhabited, say defenders, Macdonald was comparatively tolerant. He hung out with Irishmen, he had native friends, he urged unity with French speakers and he candidly acknowledged that the Canadian project was not going well for the country’s indigenous inhabitants.

“At all events, the Indians have been great sufferers by the discovery of America, and the transfer to it of a large white population,” he said in 1880.

Eldridge Stanton/Library and Archives Canada/PA-

Eldridge Stanton/Library and Archives Canada/PA-Sir John A. Macdonald

Macdonald oversaw the execution of Louis Riel, yes, but the man had staged two violent rebellions against his government.

“We still admire the way he tried to get Canadians to co-operate,” wrote historian Ged Martin in a recent piece. “But we don’t like the price that had to be paid, in sleaze and pork, to keep the country working together.”

The steepest price, by far, came on the aboriginal file. In addition to being Canada;’s first and longest serving prime minister, Macdonald remains the country’s longest-serving aboriginal affairs minister.

Serving in the post from 1878 to 1888, he laid the groundwork for basically every institution now blamed for the horrid state of Ottawa-aboriginal relations: The Indian Act, Indian Residential Schools and an over-bureaucratized Department of Indian Affairs.

“First Nations people in Saskatchewan, I would bet you $5 to a person, consider Macdonald the agent of their subjugation,” said University of Regina professor James Daschuk.

Last May, Mr. Daschuk, the author of a decidedly anti-Macdonald book, found himself in the somewhat awkward position of winning the Sir John A. Macdonald Prize for non-fiction.

‘He didn’t need to be so cruel’

That book, Clearing the Plains, based on 20 years of research, outlines how Canada capitalized on famine and disease in the prairies to force native populations to relocate to reserves well away from the coming railroad.

Mr. Daschuk notes that the evidence can still be seen on maps. In the once-populous areas southwest of Regina, there are only two First Nations reserves — both of which were established after the railroad was finished.

It was understandable for Macdonald to build a railroad to British Columbia or even pursue a policy of assimilation. But Mr. Daschuk says that what happened on the plains was needlessly draconian: Natives were barred from selling their agricultural products to white settlers, in some cases they were restricted from using modern farming implements and they could be arrested if found off their reserve without a pass.

“He didn’t need to be so cruel,” said Mr. Daschuk.

But it’s not like he had opponents. When critics accused Macdonald’s government of wasting money on feeding the Cree, the Prime Minister had no qualms in telling the assembled House of Commons that his agents withheld food “until the Indians were on the verge of starvation, to reduce the expense.”

As Don Smith noted in one of the few papers ever drafted on Macdonald’s aboriginal policy, the first Prime Minister was also somewhat progressive in his belief in Aboriginal title as something to be extinguished with treaties.

Other politicians of the era reasoned that the natives had never owned the land in the first place, so it was free for the taking.

In the 1880s, a landmark Ontario court decision ruled that “there is no Indian title in law or in equity. The claim of the Indians is simply moral and no more.”

As the ugly business of nation-building goes, Macdonald can still boast some of history’s cleanest hands.

Unlike Germany’s Otto von Bismarck, Macdonald didn’t unify Canada by engineering a series of bloody foreign wars. He never owned people, like George Washington. And he never personally killed anyone, like Simon Bolivar.

And even within the 19th century British Empire, the devastating relocation of several thousand native peoples was barely a blip.

As Mr. Daschuk noted, the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad was occurring at the same time as drought and negligent colonial management was conspiring to kill millions in British India.

But even if Macdonald wins the historical context game, it does not mean he will ever be anything less than an antihero for those Canadians who got the short end of the Confederation stick.

As Anishinaabe academic Hayden King wrote in a Twitter post this week, “’nobody is perfect’ is sooner to be adopted as a national mantra than rejecting [Sir John A. Macdonald] as a villain.”

National Post

• Email: | Twitter: TristinHopper

Charlie Hebdo attack a taste of things to come for liberal and not-so-liberal Europe


Wednesday’s terrorist attack on the offices of a French satirical publication was another shock taste of the future that confronts liberal and not-so-liberal Europe and other open societies.

By the afternoon there was a flood of robust commentaries agreeing with French President François Hollande, who said such attacks were aimed at destroying liberty. With the freedom of the press clearly at stake, many western journalists and editors declared they would not be cowed by such tyranny.

Although many of the stories and cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo were ridiculous and highly offensive, it is impossible to argue against such sentiments. But righteous proclamations journalists will not be intimidated by terrorists must be taken with many grains of salt.

The harsh fact is the barbarism of al-Qaida and its even more virulent stepchild, the Islamic State of Iraq & Al-Sham, has already terrified western media to the point almost no journalists have tried to bear witness to the outrages being perpetrated by ISIS and like-minded groups in Syria and Iraq. Nor are their equally sane editors pushing them to go there.

As understandable as such decisions are, the upshot is there is virtually no independent information about ISIS atrocities as the jihadists seek to establish a medieval caliphate. What is available is their vile propaganda videos and the experiences of those who have fled areas they occupy.

This has not their only victory. Some western embassies have closed because of the high likelihood they would be attacked. Others remain nominally open, but only by becoming armed fortresses. They are of symbolic importance, but can achieve little because the diplomats are too scared to go out to collect reliable information about what is happening or to speak with the authorities.

Radical Islam is winning in another way. From Sweden to Spain, Italy and Britain, terrorist strikes are purpose-built to provoke a public backlash that adds additional fuel to what is the first seminal confrontation of the new millennium.

One grim paradox is that tough laws restricting freedom are introduced to protect it. One reason is to confront the threat. Another is that countries such as France, Austria, and Belgium have elected illiberal politicians who vow to further restrict freedoms in the name of freedom if they gain power.

This war within the war has been taking place for some time now in some of Europe’s most open and permissive societies. Extreme religious intolerance was equally evident in a blitz of recent attacks by Islamic terrorists on synagogues in France and Christian terrorists on mosques in Sweden.

Over the past decade, the Swedish city of Malmo has taken in many refugees from Iraq and Syria who do not feel welcome. Paris and Birmingham are now so riven by Islamic radicalism, parts have almost become no-go zones for the authorities. Disputes over Islamic clothing, Shariah courts and what should be taught in schools are commonplace.

An underlying cause is that much of Europe is in a ruinous state economically, with Muslim youths finding it harder to get jobs than anyone else. Germany, with its uniquely evil history, prospered after Hitler and the Nazis were defeated, and became an international beacon of freedom. But much of that thinking has eroded since the turn of the century.

A battle for German hearts and minds is now under way, with rallies being held by progressives and hardliners arguing for and against immigration that has mostly been coming from Islamic countries.

Despite its own brush with terrorism, when demented men with Islamic connections murdered unarmed soldiers near Montreal and in Ottawa, Canadian society has not yet ruptured the way European society has. One of the reasons is undoubtedly because the Canadian economy has performed far better than those in Europe, with Norway and Germany perhaps being the exceptions.

Without question another factor is that Canada is a nation of immigrants. Having digested generations of immigrants, newcomers are generally not regarded with as much suspicion as they are in the Old World.

Until now Canada has probably managed to strike a slightly better balance than its European allies, but there is nothing to be smug about. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of young Canadian Muslims have been seduced by the idea of global jihad. Some others who still live among us undoubtedly agree.

Although far more intimidated than we wish to admit, we must try to understand as best as we can this evil and figure out ways to confront it without making things worse. Above all else, we must remain tolerant of all ideas except those that involve the kind of violence that poisoned France Wednesday and could poison Canada again at any moment.

Preserving liberty is a tricky business. In the face of such bloody provocations, there are no easy or obvious solutions.

Postmedia News

Imam wants radical recruiters of Muslim youth in Canada identified and dealt with

CALGARY — Reaching out to talk with Muslim youth who are at risk of being radicalized isn’t enough to stop it from happening, say parents, clerics and police.

Those leading the charge against radicalization say more has to be done to find and deal with the recruiters who convince vulnerable young people to give up their personal belongings, follow the teachings of the Islamic State and even travel overseas to fight and die on its behalf.

“There is something going on behind the scenes which is hidden. Unless we know the hand that is behind this recruitment it will be almost impossible to stop this recruitment and this radicalization,” says Calgary Imam Syed Soharwardy, the founder of Muslims Against Terrorism and the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.

“I have no doubt that there are people in this country who are facilitating and funding the travel to Syria and Iraq.
Those people need to be exposed. We just blame the Internet and social media, but I think that is very shortsighted.”

A handful of Calgary youth have already reportedly gone to the Middle East to fight for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The federal government’s annual national security report said at the start of 2014, it knew of more than 130 individuals who were abroad and suspected of terror-related activities. About 30 people with Canadian connections were suspected of terror activities in Syria.

Calgary’s deputy police chief says his department has had success working with Muslim groups to find young people who are “vulnerable.” But Trevor Daroux agrees it is essential to find the people who are influencing those most at risk.

“There has to be concerted efforts to find and identify those who are … trying to exploit others through radicalization. The partnerships within the law enforcement community are really the answer to that,” Daroux says.

“Calgary, as well as every other city in this country and around the world, has to be very much aware that there are those individuals who will actively, face-to-face, try and radicalize those individuals.”

Chris Boudreau, whose 22-year-old son was killed while fighting with Islamic extremists in Syria, says there has been little sharing of information by law enforcement officials with those working in the community.

Her son, Damian Clairmont, converted to Islam as a teen and reportedly died in heavy fighting in the city of Aleppo last winter as a member of the militant group Islamic State.

Boudreau says her son was actively recruited by individuals in Calgary, so she knows they exist.

“You can be guaranteed they’re getting paid to do what they do. They’re not going to put themselves at risk — they’re just getting paid to go out and get more people and introduce them to these ideologies.”

Both Boudreau and Soharwardy want a national inquiry to shine a light on those who are working as puppeteers behind the scenes.

Soharwardy says he was contacted by the parents of a 17-year-old boy who was prevented from going to Syria. They discovered that $5,000 had been transferred into his bank account to pay for his trip. The matter was turned over to police and that’s where it ended.

“Our very young children have gone. They are children and they have been recruited in this country to be soldiers for terrorists. This is a serious thing and the public has the right to know and the politicians have a right to know,” says Soharwardy.

“I’m looking for a national inquiry into the radicalization and the recruitment of all Canadians — the 130 more Canadians — and we want to know who radicalized, who funded.”

Boudreau says she understands it is difficult for police to find recruiters and to make criminal charges stick. She says a public inquiry would encourage members of the public to come forward and help with the investigation.

“I believe they should be putting a lot more resources toward that. I think they should do what they’ve done in France — relax the laws so they can hold them even if it’s on suspicion. Here they can’t even do that,” she says.

“They need to make it feasible and comfortable and provide the right environment for people to come forward if they have any inkling or suspicion and be allowed to go and investigate and question those people.”

While community groups and those within the Mulsim community are reaching out to youth, the ones they are reaching are already engaged and less likely to be led astray.

Boudreau says they need to reach people like her son.

“It’s basically anybody who’s going through any transition in their lives — they’re open, they’re weak, they’re seeking purpose,” she says.

“You’re desperate and fed up and tired of hitting your head against the wall and somebody says, ‘here’s the answer for everything.”’