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Stewart Bell on Terrorism in Canada at Book Launch


Last night Stewart Bell (reporter for the National Post, among other things) launched his new non-fiction book The Martyr's Oath at the Holy Blossom Temple, an event sponsored by B'nai Brith.

He spoke at length about the 'home grown terrorist' Mohammed Jabarah whose path from Canadian immigrant to al-Qaeda operative he describes in his book and whose case provides evidence (of sorts) of the part Canada plays in nurturing and incubating terrorists as he described in his earlier publication Cold Terror.

Bell received a Local/Alternative Print Award from Amnesty International in 2001 for his article 'Guerilla Girls' about girls forced to be soldiers in Sierra Leone. I really like and trust AI, so I started the event wanting to hear a solidly researched explanation of terrorists born and/or bred in the West and perhaps insight into how government and society can adapt to prevent them from being drawn to terrorism.

I was sorely disappointed and frequently shocked.

First, Bell provides (two) examples of terrorists found in action, so to speak, with Canadian passports, as proof that 'more' Canadian young people are being recruited.

He then claims that since travel has become more difficult since 9/11, terrorist organizations have begun recruiting in the 'target' countries of choice, which is frightening because then the terrorists "look and sound like everyone else" - whereas before you could surely recognize them, what with the beards and funny accents and everything.

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Jabarah's story is Bell's attempt to understand the appeal of terrorist cults organizations to the young western men (his specification, not mine) who live in the 'civilized' West. Bell interviewed his "normal looking family," and traced Jabarah's missions in South East Asia (where he reports airport bookstores are filled with titles about the Jewish Conspiracy and how 9/11 was planned by the CIA).

Bell says what he learned from MJ was
A) it's "not surprising" he turned to terrorism with so many people pushing him in that direction (SB's vague here, he seemed to suggest it was his Dad, cousin and brother. Yeah. Three is a lot).
B) The ideas introduced in Kuwait (MJ visited at age 14) were 'nurtured in Canada' (more vagueness - apparently 'we' were unable to convince him 'our way is the right way.' Which way's our way, again?)
C) The 'clichĂŠ' of terrorist acts being spontaneous is false, actually they're "carefully planned." (No! I'm shocked, shocked and alarmed!) Future terrorists are (apparently) drawn in slowly, exposed to ideas and propaganda, then trained in camps, sent to the front lines, then guided to 'urban training'.

They aren't the downtrodden, exploited masses, no, they're upper-middle class, well-educated thrill seekers, says Bell. (Who think they're acting on behalf of the downtrodden masses? Since the masses are busy trying to get by?)

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Bell's theory on why this is "allowed" to happen in Canada? Why, people are moving here not wanting to "fit in," wanting to maintain their own identity or some such rubbish. Apparently there is a cleric (Bell found this online somewhere. All his references to the web presence of extreme Muslims in Canada are vague) who urges his followers not to fit in, which Bell thinks creates a 'ghettoization' and contributes to 'violent anti-Americanism.'

And what appalls Bell the most? "These ideas are tolerated in Canada!"

Heavens! No! Ideas? Tolerated? How can we stop it?!

Because although, "Thankfully they've been working elsewhere" it's only a matter of time before the terrorists start doing damage on Canadian soil. (I'm sorry, thankfully it's been happening somewhere else? As long as it's not here we're relieved?)

Bell wants Canada to enact legislation that allows the arrest of people spreading such harmful ideas. (No, not like the Gestapo, or the Thought Police, don't be silly). Prosecute under hate-crime laws or anti-terror laws. Tell Muslim groups to tell people to cooperate with CSIS (instead of encouraging them not to, as they are apparently doing now).

Why wouldn't they want to help intelligence providing names and organizations? Lobby groups "should be about Canada, security" and concerned with "how to protect (it) from terrorism." Explain, "forcefully" that Canada has a right to defend itself against terrorism.

Oh, and it's key that Canada encourage new immigrants to fully adapt, since citizenship comes with responsibilities, which include upholding Canadian values.

Because, see, "they" hate "us" because we have democracy.

What scared me more was that during the Q&A, the audience was actually enthusiastically repeating Bell's ideas. Someone wanted to know how to pressure the government to squash those people upholding non-Canadian values, whatever that is. Another though the government would be reluctant to pass any legislation because people (the public? The masses? The Muslims?) would claim that Jews influence was too strong.

I'm sure not everyone's response to the talk was quite that paranoid, and I really hope Bell's book presents arguments with fewer holes you could drive a truck through. Because terrorism is a real issue. And it is important to know why individuals become terrorists, how terrorist groups develop and how we can prevent both.

Somehow, I don't think trying to force people to be a specific kind of Canadian would help anything.


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