Canada’s counter-radicalization efforts have ‘little national coherence,’ Public safety minister says

Apart from the Kanishka Project which funded some needed research, the previous government relatively under-invested in counter-radicalization given their reluctance to “commit sociology” and focus on hard security measures:

Canada’s counter-radicalization efforts have “little national coherence,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Sunday in a statement reflecting on the killing last week of an ISIL supporter allegedly about to conduct an attack.

Saying the police response had “prevented a much more terrible outcome,” Goodale called for an improved response to the threat of extremism. While some work is underway in cities such as Montreal and Calgary, Canada has no national strategy.

“Our goal is to begin fixing that this year,” he said. “We need to get really good at this — ;to preserve our diversity and pluralism as unique national strengths. …We need to access the best global research.  We need to develop more of our own.

“We need to generate and co-ordinate talent and expertise. We need to mobilize and support community-based outreach agencies. We need to know how to identify those who could be vulnerable to insidious influences that draw certain people — especially young people — toward extremism leading to violence.

“We need to understand what positive messages can counteract that poison. We need to know how to intervene with the right tools at the right time in the right way — all to head off tragedies before they happen, as much as humanly possible.”

A fast-paced RCMP investigation into a martyrdom video recorded by a masked man who vowed to attack Canada led police Wednesday to the Strathroy, Ont., home of Aaron Driver, a radicalized Muslim convert and ardent supporter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

….Goodale said the his top concerns were “lone wolves who get sucked into perverse and extreme ideologies that promote violence.” The Liberals were “committed to meaningful national security consultations” that would intensify in the fall, he said.

Source: Canada’s counter-radicalization efforts have ‘little national coherence,’ Public safety minister says | National Post

Methods For Reforming Neo-Nazis Help Fight The Radicalization Of Muslims

More on Hayat-Germany and some of the similar counter-radicalization approaches:

Hayat-Germany grew out of a program called Exit-Deutschland, which targeted neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists, groups that German authorities have been working to deradicalize and fold back into Germany society for years. Berczk says the Hayat program is premised on the belief that the lessons from working with right-wing extremist programs can be applied to radical Islamists as well.

“There is a commonality between extremist ideologies,” she says. “But also if we are talking about sects and cults, there are certain things that all these groups have in common.”

That’s good news because it means authorities can mine their long experience with neo-Nazis and apply it to the relatively new problem they face with ISIS now. Of course, each case is different, which is what makes deradicalization complicated.

But in a general way, Hayat-Germany says the key component in these programs is family. Studies have shown that by strengthen family ties, parents and siblings end up providing the support young people were missing and subsequently sought and found in extremist groups.

Among other things, Hayat counsels the families to avoid confrontation when they are trying to convince relatives to come back from Syria. Recruiters in the jihadist camps tell new arrivals that conflict with their families is inevitable. They warn them that if they reach out to those they have left at home, they’ll be chastised and ordered to return.

The problem with their families, the recruiters say, is they just don’t understand ISIS followers and the depth of their faith. If families get angry — even if it comes from worry — this plays right into the recruiters’ hands.

That’s why Hayat tells parents not to demand a return, but instead to suggest their relatives leave Syria and settle in a third country, far away from the battlefield, and start a family and a new life. Once the young people are out from under ISIS’ spell, families have a better chance of convincing them eventually to come home. Strategies to make this happen come from counselors at Hayat.

Quintan Wiktorowicz, an academic who did field studies on radicalization in Jordan and the U.K., now runs Affinis Labs, which tries to use innovation and entrepreneurship to solve community problems like radicalization. He was responsible for engagement programs at the White House and developed counter-radicalization initiatives for the State Department. He says Hayat’s remedies — from hotlines people can call to engaging the families of radicalized youth in counseling sessions — are strategies that have been effective across ideologies.

“Although there are different pathways to radicalization and the ideologies vary across extremists groups, the underlying drivers are very similar,” he said.

The drivers usually come in three parts: an extreme level of frustration, a sense of powerlessness and exposure to an ideology that not only resonates emotionally, but also offers a solution to the frustration.

“The mechanics, whether you are a right-wing extremist or embracing ISIS, are very similar,” he says.

Source: Methods For Reforming Neo-Nazis Help Fight The Radicalization Of Muslims : Parallels : NPR

Is ‘counter-radicalization’ just another way of blaming all terrorism on Muslims? – iPolitics

Still in the denial stage: Monia Mazigh and Azeezah Kanji on counter-radicalization. Would be more helpful and useful to suggest or recommend better ways to engage Canadian Muslims and counter-radicalization strategies:

Which leads to the question: What exactly will Canada’s new Office of Counter-Radicalization be countering?

Few answers are to be found in the written output of Canadian security agencies: Their reports are opaque regarding the mythical connection between religious/ideological radicalization and “terrorism” — which seems to be assumed rather than proven. A 2011 CSIS study acknowledged that “the search for patterns and trends on radicalization remains elusive”, even while a report produced the very next year claimed, with surprising confidence, that “the Service has a solid grasp on this topic.”

Questionable as the concept of radicalization is, CSIS publications manage to cast a broad pall of suspicion on Muslims in Canada. “Islamist radicalization,” according to one (unsupported) CSIS assessment, can occur “just about anywhere … these people gather.”

open quote 761b1bCounter-radicalization programs in Western liberal democracies have largely been thinly-veiled exercises in targeting Muslims — even though non-Muslims have been responsible for the majority of political violence in both America and Europe.

Even Muslims’ dreams have been represented as a site of potentially dangerous activity – putting a strange new spin on the concept of “sleeper cells.” The generally overwhelming focus on Muslims is curious, given that CSIS’s own internal documents identify right-wing and white-supremacist violence as a greater threat than violence by Muslims (as described last year in the Toronto Star).

Source: Is ‘counter-radicalization’ just another way of blaming all terrorism on Muslims? – iPolitics

Phil Gurski’s similar and well-expressed take:

I have to admit I feel exasperated when I read things like this. Can we not get past these issues? Can we not at least agree on the following fundamental truths?

a) a small number of people will embrace radical ideologies

b) an even smaller number of these will plan acts of serious violence

c) a subset of b) will be Muslim

d) doing nothing is not an option.

What is so problematic about this? How can anyone who cares about Canada not see this as a priority? No, it is not our top priority and never will be, but that nevertheless does not mean we an ignore it.

I know that a number of serious missteps have been made (i.e. every time Donald Trump opens his mouth) and that the programmes that have been initiated have not been perfect (the UK’s PREVENT strategy comes in for some particularly scathing criticism). But I also know that there are some who seem to stop at complaining and don’t offer anything helpful in exchange. This is not going to help us solve this problem.

A few things need to happen. Governments have to work much more closely with communities, religious leaders, teachers, doctors. social workers, parents and anyone who is in a position to observe radicalisation at work and who wants to play a role in countering it. Communities need to get off their “woe is us” bandwagon, acknowledge there is a problem that needs fixing and stop denying reality. We all must figure out ways to move this dialogue beyond finger-pointing and acrimony.

If we don’t people are going to continue down the path to violent extremism, leaving behind traumatised families and broken communities, and others are going to die.

Source: Borealis Threat & Risk Consulting

Luc Portelance and Ray Boisvert: It’s time for Canada to get serious about national security

Overview of the security agency perspective from Luc Portelance and Ray Boisvert. Challenge to the rest of government and society lies with counter-radicalization efforts, as they flag below:

Radicalization prevention begins at home, in our communities and across various levels of government. Furthermore, the development of counter-narratives to violent extremism must not be seen as the exclusive domain of security agencies. Counter-radicalization is a long-term battle of ideas that can only be won through collaborative action across society, and more specifically by applying proven commercial marketing strategies.

With the move of the multiculturalism program back to Canadian Heritage, there is an opportunity for the program to play a larger role in such policy discussions and initiatives than was the case recently at CIC/IRCC (as was done previously before the move to CIC/IRCC).

Source: Luc Portelance and Ray Boisvert: It’s time for Canada to get serious about national security | National Post

UK: Anti-Muslim hate crime to be treated as seriously as antisemitism

Good and needed as part of engagement strategy:
Prime Minister David Cameron will tell police forces in England and Wales to record anti-Muslim hate crimes separately and treat them as seriously as anti-Semitic attacks. The move comes amid rising incidents of Islamophobia.

New funding to boost security at religious buildings, including mosques, will also be announced.

The policy move on Tuesday is designed to reassure Muslim communities that the government’s counter-extremism strategy will be balanced, amid fears that the measures alienate them.

Cameron will make the announcement at the first meeting of his new Community Engagement Forum, which will meet to discuss the government’s counter-extremism strategy, due to be published next month.

Islamophobic crime in London jumped by 70 percent in the year up to July, according to official statistics from the Metropolitan Police, one of the few forces to record anti-Muslim hate crime.

Anti-Muslim hate crimes in other parts of the UK are currently monitored by Tell MAMA, an unofficial recorder of Islamophobia in the UK that relies on victims logging incidents online or over the phone.

Speaking ahead of the announcement, Cameron said he wanted to show Muslim communities support.

I want to build a national coalition to challenge and speak out against extremists and the poison they peddle.

I want British Muslims to know we will back them to stand against those who spread hate and to counter the narrative which says Muslims do not feel British.”

And I want police to take more action against those who persecute others simply because of their religion,” he added.

Source: Anti-Muslim hate crime to be treated as seriously as anti-Semitism – Cameron — RT UK

Counter-extremism is getting smarter

Commentary on the new UK counter-terrorism strategy, praising the broadening of focus to tackle extremism of all kinds, not just radical Islam, and ongoing serious effort to reduce anti-Muslim prejudice:

no counter-extremism strategy will unite us all. Such work lies at the notoriously fragile intersection that separates civil liberties from national security. But for the first time in a long while there are signs that we are moving in a better direction, and have acknowledged some failings in the past. While this week’s recommendations provide us with a foundation rather than a coherent strategy, they are a useful starting point for us all.

Counter-extremism is getting smarter | Matthew Goodwin | Comment is free | The Guardian.

And from the other side of the political spectrum, The Daily Mail takes this tack, which reads it into a broader critique of multiculturalism, defined in UK terms as promoting separateness:

David Cameron: Mistake of multiculturalism aided extremists | Mail Online

For the actual report, well-thought out and written as most UK strategies, link below:

Link to UK counter-extremism strategy