Stewart Bell Feb 9, 2012 – 6:02 PM ET | Last Updated: Feb 9, 2012 6:14 PM ET
Feisal Omar / Reuters files
Al Shabaab militants parade new recruits after arriving in Mogadishu in 2010.
Saying terrorism remained a significant threat, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews unveiled a national counter-terrorism strategy Thursday that put the emphasis on confronting the indoctrination that has led some Canadians to radical violence.
The strategy, meant to guide federal counter-terrorism efforts, identified Sunni Islamist extremism as Canada’s top security threat and committed the government to making communities more “resilient” to the influence of extremist ideologues.
“To succeed, the government’s counter-terrorism efforts cannot be limited to operations directed at groups or individuals already involved in terrorist activities. They must also be reinforced by preventive measures, aimed at keeping vulnerable individuals from being drawn into terrorism,” it read.
Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons Wednesday.
But it revealed few details on how the government would accomplish this, and some critics were skeptical. Mubin Shaikh, who infiltrated the Toronto 18 for the RCMP and CSIS, said the Canadian government was far behind its allies and had not yet forged effective links with influential leaders in communities at risk of radicalization.
He said counter-radicalization had to be done by those with credibility in communities, such as imams who could be encouraged to teach the proper meaning of jihad so their followers don’t misinterpret the concept and use it as a justification for terrorism.
The plan of action is Canada’s first concerted attempt to tackle the radicalization that came to light when the Toronto 18 terrorist group plotted to storm Parliament and detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto in 2006, with one member suggesting the attacks be conducted under the name al-Qaeda in Canada.