By Robert Frank
Six Montreal and Laval teens who left Canada, Jan. 16, to join Middle East militants, are already sowing seeds of violence here at home.
A senior police intelligence official told The Suburban that the young defectors have, since they departed, succeeded in recruiting many other disaffected youth here, through slick social media campaigns.
“They’re very sophisticated,” the official said in an interview. “[Would-be Middle East terrorists] know that we will be able to stop them long before they reached Canada, if they were to try to come here, so they are instead conscripting young Canadians to do their bidding.”
This time, the militants are not merely luring Canadian youth abroad, but are also inciting violence in Canada, inspired by the murders of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in St. Jean sur Richelieu, Oct. 20, and of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa, Oct 22.
“It’s not just about the danger that [the youths who fled] might eventually pose, when they return to Canada one day,” the official explained. “It’s about the danger that they already pose today, from where they are abroad.”
The October 2014 attacks also served as a wake-up call to Canada’s police and intelligence agencies that overseas antagonists are fomenting a domestic threat by fostering similar lone wolves.
In particular, the Montreal region, with its significant Middle Eastern community—most of whom do not pose a security threat—remains a fertile recruiting ground for a malleable minority of its members.
Intelligence agencies have long been aware of the risk posed by Canadians returning from fighting in guerrilla wars abroad. It was a lesson learned after the United States backed the Mujahideen to oust the Soviet Union from Afghanistan. Many radicalized Arabs who went to fight there as self-appointed holy warriors returned afterward to their Middle East homelands, where they helped to fill the ranks of violent organizations like Al Qaeda.
Since 2010, the official said, Canadian criminal intelligence experts have also witnessed an increase in collaboration between Italian and biker organized crime groups and Middle Eastern crime organizations here, some of whose proceeds find their way to coffers in the Levant.