Monday October 27, 2014

How to help radicalized youth before it's too late

Listen 21:58

The RCMP says it has evidence that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's motives were ideological and political. The father of Martin Couture-Rouleau says he alerted police about his son's concerning behaviour but felt he couldn't do anything. So what happens when a parent or a religious leader starts to notice disturbing changes in someone? Where do they go? Who can help?

Christianne Boudreau, whose son Damian Clairmont converted to Islam and died fighting in Syria last winter, speaks to reporters at a conference on how to prevent the radicalization of Muslim youth. (CP/Bill Graveland)

"He had some questions or objections against the administration of this mosque about the openness by which they were operating the mosque. The mosque operates on a foundation of welcome, of community outreach and interfaith dialogue and that cannot take place when we close the doors on our neighbours. And if he was not okay with that, he should probably choose another mosque to go to and pray."

Aasim Rashid spoke Friday for the mosque in Burnaby, BC that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau had attended -- at least until he was asked to leave.

There is still a lot we don't know about Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau. Little is known about their lives except for their final few moments -- the moments in which their attacks resulted in the deaths of two soldiers last week. We don't know what directly motivated them, but there are signs both were sympathetizers of radical islamists with aspirations to join fighters abroad.

Families of radicalized individuals -- and members of the Muslim community -- struggle with what exactly they're supposed to do when they see changes in their loved ones.

We convened three people who have had relationships with radicalized Muslim men:

  • Christianne Boudreau is the mother of Damian Clairmont, a Calgary man who died in January fighting with ISIS in Syria.

  • Muhammad Robert Heft is a Muslim convert and now works in deradicalization programs. We reached him in Qatar.

  • Faisal Kutty is a professor of law at Valparaiso University Law School, and adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and co-founder and of counsel to KSM Law. He has represented the families of those charged in the Toronto 18 plot.

This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Marc Apollonio.