Changing the minds of wannabe terrorists

More commentary on deradicalization approaches:

And while these may seem to be the only two options open to Canadians who turn down the path of violent extremism — death or a court date — experts say a third option — deradicalization — isn’t receiving the attention it deserves.

“These programs can work,” said Jocelyn Bélanger, a psychology professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal who has studied radicalization around the world.

“Even though the number of cases (of homegrown extremism) are limited, we know how much damage just a few individuals can create. … If we do it well, if we read the research on this, we can develop better programs. We can be preventive as well, flagging individuals who are at risk, and once they are flagged they go into a (deradicalization) program.

”Existing approaches to this type of “deprogramming” have had varying degrees of success, and the rehabilitation is usually offered on a voluntary basis, Bélanger said. In most cases, the “beneficiary” is given a choice, to serve their sentence in jail or in a special facility.

“I know it sounds like a false choice, but it is nonetheless psychologically important,” explained Bélanger. In Saudi Arabia, he noted, “Imams will actually use the Qur’an, will engage in discussion with the beneficiary about the Qur’an, ultimately trying to convince them that Islam does not support the killing of innocents.”

Changing the minds of wannabe terrorists.

Farzana Hassan, who seems to be oblivious to the many messages from Canadian Muslims against extremism:

Muslims need to transcend the propaganda that has so defined their narrative on these issues and reject the naive “crusader” fiction.

Tragically, this is a point lost on the majority of the faithful, even supposed moderates.

Mosques must discredit this narrative actively, and they must preach the values of Canadian identity even above religious affiliation.

While Muslims are of course entitled to remain distinct, they must abide not only by the laws of the land but also by its universal values.

Inciting the murder of innocent Canadians is a clear violation of those laws and values.

In dealing with religious extremism, true moderation involves more than refusing to commit violence; it involves campaigning against the absurd political assumptions that may encourage it in others.

…It is the obscurantist views of extremists like Maguire that have hampered progress towards economic prosperity and political stability in the Muslim world for so long.

Muslims must not see attacks on ISIS as attacks on their religion as a whole.

On the contrary, they may help alleviate all the burdens that have bedeviled the Islamic world for so many decades.

Al Canadi’s rants are those of an impressionable and disturbed young man brainwashed by a lethal world view, a view so simplistic we can only wonder at its appeal.​—brainwashed-disturbed …

Michel Petrou provides a good overview of some of the challenges with deradicalization and the absence of an equivalent program in Canada, citing the UK experience in particular:

Usama Hasan, a British imam and senior researcher at the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank in Britain, says he is “astonished” that Canada does not have a de-radicalization program for Canadians who have returned from Syria and Iraq.

“There may be a risk that they’ve spent time with extremist groups and been brutalized by the war. So there’s always a risk that their minds won’t be thinking straight. So it’s very important to have ‘de-rad,’ which has to include a bit of mental health counselling and looking at PTSD and things like that,” he says.

“Even if they are prosecuted and convicted, you still need to de-rad them, because they will eventually be released from prison, and quite possibly they will be even more of a threat then because they will have been hardened in prison, and so they’re a threat either way.”

When he was a student at Cambridge University in the early 1990s, Hasan left Britain and briefly joined the Islamist insurrection, or jihad, against Afghanistan’s communist government.

At the time, Hasan was a radical Salafist and followed an extreme interpretation of Islam. He has since become much more moderate. In addition to officiating at interfaith marriage ceremonies, he now advises the British government on its own de-radicalization program, dubbed Channel.

People immersed in extremist groups “live in a kind of disconnected world,” says Hasan.

“They have their own reality, which they invent and perpetuate among their group by repeating the same old propaganda over and over again, but also blocking out anything that runs counter to that world view. We have to find holes in their world view and try to get through to them in as many ways as possible to make them doubt and rethink those kinds of ideas.”

Has likens the process to convincing someone to leave a gang. “You have to give them alternatives, address their needs,” he says.

When extremists rely on their faith to justify their world view, “you have to address all those religious points as well,” he says, “with better religion.”

Hasan describes recently counselling a young man who was determined to go to Syria. Hasan says the man knew “almost nothing” about the conflict there, or about the Middle East in general.

“People had just told him it was a war between Muslims and non-Muslims, and it was his duty to go and fight for Islam.”

The man believed there were American ground troops in Syria whom he could fight. Hasan educated him about the war, especially its sectarian nature and the ongoing slaughter occurring between Muslims. The potential recruit decided to stay in Britain.

He was lucky. Many others have left from Britain, Canada and other Western countries and died far from home. Some have committed horrific atrocities. Some will come back. Whether we like it or not, we’re going to have to figure out a way to live with them.

Canada’s extremist problem –

From the US and the need for a more differentiated approach:

“Should they be prosecuted, should they be counseled, should they be reintegrated in a more compassionate way?” says Juan Zarate, who used to be a terrorism official at the Treasury Department. He’s now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Those are important questions because to the extent they are not fully radicalized, they perhaps were lured by a romanticized vision of what life was like in Syria,” he says. “Maybe it is appropriate to apply different tools and measures to peel them away from the movement as opposed to the same tools we have applied to more hard-core members of the group.”

When Americans Head To Syria, How Much Of A Threat Do They Pose?

Americans Line Up to Renounce US Citizenship in Toronto

More on the US FATCA and impact on Canadians:

Canada finalized its IGA earlier this year. It requires Canadian banks send the account information of customers with U.S. citizenship to the Canada Revenue Agency CRA. The CRA then forwards that information on to the IRS, a tidy workaround to Canadian laws forbidding banks from sending that information directly to a foreign government.

But attorney John Richardson calls the information-sharing deal a “mechanism for the United States to extract after-tax Canadian capital out of the country.”

“What the U.S. is really doing is claiming the right to levy taxes on people who don’t live in the United States on income that is in no way connected to the United States. It simply cannot be tolerated,” said Richardson.

Many Canadians don’t even realize that the U.S. considers them taxable citizens, nor do they want U.S. citizenship, he said. That’s because the U.S. considers those born to American parents outside the country American, or anyone born in the U.S. American, even if they live their whole life in another country, unaware they are accumulating a mountain of fees and taxes.

The IRS has changed its position slightly to wave the massive penalties for “accidental Americans” and those unaware they needed to file with the IRS. But they are still required to pay taxes.

Americans Line Up to Renounce US Citizenship in Toronto.

Yale Law Journal Forum: Citizenship, Passports, and the Legal Identity of Americans

For citizenship legal and policy wonks, a lengthy article on US practices in relation to citizenship and passport revocation. Current US approach is to revoke passports (overly so, the author argues) while US citizenship has been largely untouchable since the 1967 Afroyim v, Rusk case:

Yet Afroyim has reversed this classical conception of sovereignty. In his majority opinion, Justice Black—after having conceded that all nations possess an implied attribute of sovereignty—stated that “[o]ther nations are governed by their own constitutions, if any, and we can draw no support from theirs. In our country the people are sovereign and the Government cannot sever its relationship to the people by taking away their citizenship.” It is on the basis of the sovereignty of the citizen—a sovereignty limited to the status of citizenship itself and to certain privileges and immunities stemming from it—that American citizenship has become absolutely secured. However, since Afroyim, the Supreme Court has not ruled on a case that would allow the Justices to bring the privileges and immunities of the U.S. citizen up to date with this new understanding of citizenship. Is it not time for the Court to read the Privileges or Immunities Clause and the Slaughter-House jurisprudence in the spirit of Afroyim—i.e., to declare as an absolute right the possession by all Americans abroad of a document attesting to their legal identity, a right to which the executive and legislative powers must defer?

When the power to naturalize was transferred by the Immigration Act of 1990 from the courts to the Attorney General, another provision of the same Act transferred to the Attorney General the power “to correct, reopen, alter, modify, or vacate an order naturalizing the person.” But in 2000, in Gorbach v. Reno, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the exclusive statutory competence of the courts to revoke citizenship. Following this decision, the Department of Homeland Security has not attempted to resume the use of administrative denaturalization.73 Since 2001, only several dozen naturalized Americans have lost their citizenship, through judicial proceedings, largely because they committed different kinds of fraud during the naturalization process. This small number is in part explained by Kungys v. United States, in which the Court refused to uphold the denaturalization of Juozas Kungys because the government had not shown that his misrepresentation concerning the date and place of his birth were facts that, if known, would have warranted denial of citizenship.

The Yale Law Journal – Forum: Citizenship, Passports, and the Legal Identity of Americans: Edward Snowden and Others Have a Case in the Courts.

Birth Tourism: Chinese Flock to the U.S. to Have Babies

What is striking is that the numbers are relatively small in the US as in Canada. 10,000 may sound like a lot but in context of the number of illegal residents (in the millions) or overall US population, this is minimal.

One could also view this as another immigration channel targeting high-powered and high net worth immigrants, given the amount of money this costs. 🙂

Birth Tourism: Chinese Flock to the U.S. to Have Babies |

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz may have to wait 8 months to stop being Canadian – The Globe and Mail

For my American readers interested in the process US Senator Cruz has to go through to renounce his Canadian citizenship, this article will be helpful. And yes, it takes time, not just a speech or statement.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz may have to wait 8 months to stop being Canadian – The Globe and Mail.

What We Don’t Know Can’t Hurt Us (Right?) | The Census Project Blog

A bit tongue-in-cheek on the US Census debates. Orwellian “ignorance is strength”.

What We Don’t Know Can’t Hurt Us (Right?) | The Census Project Blog.

The Franco-American Flophouse: The Paths to Citizenship: France and the U.S.

Comparison between the US and French approaches.

The Franco-American Flophouse: The Paths to Citizenship: France and the U.S..

In Praise of the Clash of Cultures –

In Praise of the Clash of Cultures –

What U.S. Jews Don’t Get About European Anti-Semitism – The Daily Beast

What U.S. Jews Don’t Get About European Anti-Semitism – The Daily Beast.

Dual Citizenship: As It Should Be – Room for Debate –

Peter Spiro on the realities of dual citizenship.

Dual Citizenship: As It Should Be – Room for Debate –