OTTAWA - Increasing numbers of Canadians are becoming radicalized, taking up violent jihad and leading Canada to become an exporter of terrorism, a top Mountie told QMI Agency Tuesday.
“We are seeing more and more Canadians being radicalized and deciding to support the (Islamist) cause through violence,” said Gilles Michaud, the RCMP Assistant Commissioner in charge of the force's national security criminal investigations. “It is a growing trend that we are very concerned about.” Up until recently, officials believed terror threats would come exclusively from outside Canada and efforts were made to beef up the borders, Michaud said.
“Now, what we are seeing is that threat is growing from inside and is going elsewhere,” he said. “It’s like we are exporters of terrorism to a certain extent.” Michaud’s comments come as the Al-Qaida-linked and Somali-based Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for co-ordinated bomb attacks in the Ugandan capital of Kampala that killed 76 people Sunday.
Senior White House administration officials said Tuesday the bombing was Al-Shabaab’s first terrorist act outside Somalia’s borders. Although they believe Uganda was targeted because of its support for Somalia’s transitional government, other countries, including Western states, could also be attacked by the “exceptionally violent” group, they said.
In Canada, at least six young Somali-Canadian men from the Toronto-area are believed to have joined Al-Shabaab. One is presumed to have died overseas.
Michaud said there are many more cases of individuals from across the country, including a few Western converts, who travelled abroad to join the jihad movement in places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen, where Al-Qaida is a serious threat. He would not give a specific number but said it was less than a hundred individuals.
The RCMP attempts to track Canadians abroad by working with local enforcement officials where possible, Michaud said. Under the Criminal Code, officials can prosecute Canadians who perform terrorist acts outside the country’s borders.
Michaud conceded officials are hesitant to speak out about national security threats but now believe “Canadians are not necessarily up to speed with the threats that exist in Canada and the threats Canadians pose externally as well,” and are hoping a public education campaign will provide the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) with better leads.
“We don’t want to be alarmists and create a state of fear,” he said. “But what I do fear Š is what we don’t know.
“Who is out there that we are not aware of that is flying under the radar that is in a position to do something bad?” “Hopefully, the public will be more vigilant and report suspicious behaviour and don’t believe that (CSIS and the RCMP) know everything,” Michaud said.
“Yeah, we’ve had some successes but it doesn’t mean we are aware of everything that is going on.” email@example.com