A Calgary woman whose 22-year-old son was killed while fighting with al-Qaeda linked rebels in Syria says she is not surprised to hear of another young man from this city becoming radicalized.
As CBC News reported earlier this week, Calgarian Salman Ashrafi has been identified by a jihadist group as a suicide bomber responsible for killing 46 people last November in Iraq.
- Suicide bomber killed in Iraq part of wider jihadi base in Calgary
- Canada’s young men joining foreign jihad: Are we doing enough to stop it?
- Damian Clairmont killed fighting with al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria
Chris Boudreau’s son Damian Clairmont — who converted to Islam at age 17 — was part of a circle of friends in Calgary that included Ashrafi, sources tell CBC News.
Clairmont, who later took the name Mustafa al-Gharib, prayed at the same mosque and lived in the same apartment building in downtown Calgary as Ashrafi.
Clairmont left Calgary for Syria in November 2012 to figh with Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda-affiliated rebel group consisting largely of foreign extremists.
He was injured in battle and subsequently captured and killed by an unknown faction of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the city of Aleppo.
Reliving the nightmare
On Thursday’s Calgary Eyeopener, Clairmont’s mother said the revelations about Ashrafi are forcing her to relive the nightmare.
- Hear the full interview by clicking the "Listen" button above.
Boudreau said Canadian officials aren’t doing enough to prevent more young people from becoming radicalized, and they have done nothing to help her understand what happened to her son,.
“Canada is a breeding ground. In other countries they’re trying to stop what’s happening, they’re trying to step up to the plate, provide supports for families, do something, arrest kids — whatever they need to do,” she said.
“In Canada, they’re not. So I don’t think this is going to be the last story you’re going to hear.”
Boudreau has advice for other parents who notice the early signs of radicalization in their children.
“Parents need to watch their children, watch what’s happening in their lives and realize this is happening in Canada,” she said.
“You need to reach out and get help. And that’s all I’ve been doing, is trying to find other parents to connect with in hopes that I don’t feel so alone anymore. And I don’t want any more kids to die. It’s wrong.”
Muslim Council of Calgary reacts
The Muslim Council of Calgary (MCC) is also calling for action against radicalization.
The council released a statement today saying the radicalization of Muslim youth is an international issue.
"We have always made it clear to our community that radical ideologies that attempt to justify murder and suicide bombings are incompatible with the teachings of Islam," said Imam Fayaz Tilly.
"Despite the MCC's efforts at delivering this message to our community, it is clear that more needs to be done to prevent instances of radicalization from seeping into our community,"
The council also expressed its condolences to Ashrafi's family.