Police meeting with Muslim leaders to identify potential radicals

Hamilton police have met with local Muslim leaders seeking help identifying potential radicals in their communities, and will meet with them again in April.

Former Hamilton man Mohamud Mohamud Mohamud was believed killed while reportedly fighting for Isis

Mohamud Mohamed Mohamud, pictured here, is a 20-year-old Hamilton man believed to have been killed while fighting for ISIS in northern Syria. (Calamada.com)

Hamilton police have met with local Muslim leaders to seek help identifying potential radicals in their communities and will meet with them again in April.

It’s a move that comes amid fears of growing ISIS recruitment in Canadian cities, and the death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

Hamilton Police Service has met with executive directors of local mosques to “discuss any issues or concerns,” said Chief Glenn De Caire on Thursday.

Police are asking Muslim leaders to identify “any issues with respect to radicalization of youth, separation of young people from their parents,” and people with mental health issues who might become dangerous, De Caire said.

The move was prompted by international incidents involving ISIS and other militant Islamist groups. In addition to high-profile killings, there are growing concerns that ISIS is recruiting Canadians to join its ranks. In September, former Hamilton resident Mohamud Mohamud Mohamud was believed killed, while reportedly fighting for ISIS in northern Syria.

It also follows the shooting death of Cirillo, a Hamilton reservist who was shot to death by a militant Islamist while guarding the National War Memorial on Oct. 22.

Police first met with the leaders in October “to see if there are any issues,” De Caire said. They’re scheduled to meet again in April. There have been no concerns so far, he said.

“We want to be having the discussion with the community because the community is closest to the members,” he said.

If potential radicals are identified, police will follow usual protocols, which could range from investigations to mental health treatment through the health care system.

Hamilton police also met with the Canadian Council of Imams for “wider GTA discussions,” he said. Local Muslim leaders have been cooperative and supportive. 

Kamran Bhatti, a youth outreach worker with the North American Spiritual Revival, says his group has started a Youth in Action program, which teaches youth how to lobby the government and work with media to have their voices heard.

"Young people have grievances about foreign entities and foreign conflict," he said. "We’re trying to say that we acknowledge those grievances, those grievances are valid, but we need to find more appropriate means to tackle them." 

Last week, Hamilton Muslims also participated in a "Muslims for Life" blood drive to show their commitment to peace. Local lawyer Hussein Hamdani also says he's saved 10 young people from extremism

The comments came after Det. Carmen Pietroniro presented hate crime data for 2014 at a police services board meeting.

There were 19 hate crimes in Hamilton in 2014, up from 11 in 2013. There were seven assaults, eight cases of threats uttered, three cases of assault with a weapon and one cases of causing a disturbance.

Fifteen were based on race or ethnicity and three based on sexual orientation. The majority were against the black community.

There were also 102 incidents with hate or bias overtones, including 62 based on race or ethnicity, 12 based on sexual orientation and 27 based on religion. There were 111 in 2013.

Pietroniro said police looked for an increase in anti-Islam hate crimes following Cirillo’s death, but didn’t see any.

Police also reported a sharp increase in crimes against seniors — 588 in 2014 compared to 127 in 2010. Those ranged from fraud to sexual assault. Many of them — 288 — related to quality of life.

Number of crimes against seniors

  • 2014: 588
  • 2013: 460
  • 2012: 475
  • 2011: 119
  • 2010: 127


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