Cross Country Checkup·Checkup

Joining ISIS: How would you stop radicalization in your community?

Small groups of young Canadians across the country are being attracted to the Siren call of ISIS ...first young men and now young women. What is the attraction, and how would you prevent it?
John Maguire, who was already reportedly under investigation by the RCMP after travelling to Syria to join ISIS as a foreign fighter in January 2013, appears in a six-minute, 13-second video released by the militant group. He appeals to others to join the fight. (ISIS video still/CBC)

Home-grown terror: Small groups of young Canadians across the country are being attracted to the Siren call of ISIS ...first young men and now young women too. What is the attraction, can it be prevented?

How would you stop radicalization in your community?  With guest host Suhana Meharchand



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On Parliament Hill this week many MPs were subdued as they re-lived moments in last October's attack on the Hill. The cellphone video message of the shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau revealed that he was at least partly if not wholly motivated by ideas of radical Jihad. Such ideas are hard to miss these days. They are frequently in news stories, and in many discussions of public policy today. Just a click of the mouse can easily bring up more graphic images and videos.

The al Qaeda offshoot, ISIS, as well as waging a blood-soaked path across Syria and Iraq, has shown itself to be very adept at getting out its message of religious war both online and through social media: websites with videos and music, streams of Twitter messages, online magazines, all appealing to others to join the glory of the battle.

That message is proving to be seductive to small groups of young people around the world. Many from Western countries have abandoned their comfortable lives to heed the call to battle overseas. Canada has produced substantially more young fighters per capita than the United States. It's just one of many mysteries in trying to understand why and how some young people become radicalized and get caught up in such extreme goals.

Some experts say that if those home-grown fighters don't get killed overseas they will likely return to target Canadians at home. In both recent cases, the shooting on Parliament Hill and the motor-killing of the soldier in Quebec, the perpetrators had been refused foreign travel.

Polls suggest Canadians are more concerned about the threat of terrorism than before. But whether you view the threat as being imminent or a long shot, how do you discourage the small numbers of young people who are being drawn into the world of such extreme ideas?  The numbers may be small but the potential for disruption could be much greater.

We'd like to hear your views.

How do we combat home-grown terrorism? With tougher laws, more police powers and more surveillance? Do we commit to greater vigilence within our communities? How do we identify those at risk? Who should get involved, parents, schools, friends, religious groups, the police?

Our topic today: "Joining ISIS: how would you stop radicalization in your community?"

I'm Suhana Meharchand  ...on CBC Radio One ...and on Sirius XM, satellite radio channel 169 ...this is Cross Country Checkup.


Jeff Wyers
Security researcher with Waterloo, Ontario-based intelligence group iBRABO.

Mohammad Robert Heft
Community leader and outreach liaison for the R.C.M.P. working to de-radicalize youth.
Twitter: @robertheft

Alia Hogben
Social worker and Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

Imam Syed Soharwardy
Founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and Muslims Against Terrorism.
Twitter: @syedsoharwardy


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