CHARLOTTE, NC, August 28, 2016 – Two recent Canadian studies reveal some interesting findings regarding Islamic radicalization, and raise questions about Western notions on the subject.
The reports raise questions, offering some surprising information about Islam. Not that the results are so surprising in their revelations, but because the surveys were conducted by university researchers, a former intelligence analyst and journalist who previously lived in Egypt.
The two investigations were conducted separately as a way to better understand jihadist activity in Canada. The surveys were conducted by university researchers, a former intelligence analyst and journalist who previously lived in Egypt.
The first report, by a trio of university researchers, discovered that most jihadists are guided through the radicalization process by mentors. This revelation contradicts the theory that individuals are “self radicalized” or that they educate themselves during the radicalization process.
While the study focused primarily upon jihadists from Iraq and Syria, it also included Canadians and, in the case of the homegrown Islamists at least, the mentors played a major role in their conversion to radical thinking.
The study was conducted by the academic team of Lorne Dawson of the University of Waterloo’s sociology and legal studies department, Amarnath Amarasingam of the George Washington University program on extremism and Alexandra Bain of the St. Thomas University religious studies department. they interviewed 130 foreign fighters, family members, friends, associates, recruiters and potential fighters to compile their report.
Posted on the Canadian Network for Research and Terrorism, Security and Society, their paper, titled “Talking to Foreign Fighters: Socio-Economic Push versus Existential Pull Factors,” was based upon a sampling of only 20 interviews with fighters in Syria and Iraq.
Among their significant findings was that jihad appeals to young men from a broad spectrum of society including the traditional groups which encompass the fringes of society, but also better educated candidates with potentially strong career opportunities and excellent support groups such as family and friends.
According to the report, Canadians tend to travel to the Middle East in small groups which are primarily, but not entirely, comprised of men. The researchers also learned that the women in the study usually went in support of ISIS fighters and several have married foreign fighters.
One key aspect of the paper is the considerable amount of influence radicals who possess some degree of religious authority are used to convert candidates into becoming productive agents or martyrs.
The second study, authored by Thomas Quiggin, previously an intelligence analyst with the Privy Council Office and the RCMP, and Saied Shoaaib, formerly an Egyptian journalist, centered on research done in mosques and school libraries.
Quiggin and Shoaaib discovered that the literature contained in the resource centers was composed entirely of extremist writings.
Significant among the conclusions by Quiggin and Shoaaib was that too many Canadians, especially some leading politicians, are in denial about the dangers presented by the Islamic materials. They either refuse to admit the propaganda exists or they fail to accept the reality of it.
Considering the persuasive dynamics such materials might have toward the radicalization of vulnerable young people, the researchers believe their conclusions are too important to ignore without severe consequences.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (CAIR-CAN) claimed the study did nothing to provide solutions to the problem of extremism, serving only to stigmatize Muslims.
The Canadian government has been coordinating measures for more than a year to offer recommendations for anti-terrorism. One suggestion has been to establish imam training and certification programs as a means to slow and, ultimately stop the radicalization process.
The key factor in the cumulative effect of the two studies is that they have opened a small ray of light into the veil of darkness that pervades the cries of victimization by Muslims which resonate with gullible compassionate Westerners beneath a shroud of guilt.
If nothing else, perhaps these two studies will begin to awaken an apathetic Western public to the dangers that surround them.
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Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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