OTTAWA—The public relations branch of Daesh was quick to stoke the vivid imagination of Canadian fear-mongers in the wake of the Aug. 10 terror-related incident in Strathroy, Ont.
Something called the al-Wa’d Foundation—cheerleaders of the evildoers also known as Islamic State, ISIS, and ISIL—produced and published a couple of slick-looking posters. One depicts a lone jihadist fighter standing next to a wolf (yes, a wolf) overlooking some snow-covered mountains and a post-apocalyptic Toronto skyline. The bizarre text reads: “O worshippers of the cross in Canada, now now fighting came, our wolves will come to you, from where you will not know, so you won’t enjoy life.” The second poster simply shows a Daesh evildoer walking the destroyed streets of Toronto with the caption “soon, very soon.”
To make sure we got the connection, Daesh issued a statement claiming Aaron Driver, who the police allege blew up an explosive device in the back of a taxicab in Strathroy on his way to try to harm others, is “one of [its] soldiers.” Scary stuff. Be afraid because Daesh walks among us and the apocalypse is nigh.
Except for the fact that the actual events that occurred in Strathroy run counter to any such nightmarish, doomsday scenario. Aaron Driver was not a Daesh soldier; he had never travelled to the Middle East and he had received no formal training in martial skills. He was a 24-year-old misguided youth who had converted to Islam. He was not secretive about his radicalization and his very public support for Daesh had drawn attention from not only the Canadian authorities, but also from the religious leaders at his local mosque.
Driver had been placed on a peace bond. Outside of inexplicably allowing a taxi driver to pick up Driver at his residence, the RCMP tactical squad was already well sited to block any attempted attack. Sitting in a driveway in Strathroy, Driver did not blow up Toronto as pictured in the Daesh posters. Hell, Driver’s device was so weak that when he exploded it close to him it did not kill him, and it failed to seriously injure the hapless cabbie. As was proven by the autopsy, the subsequent barrage of police bullets killed the demented Driver.
In the 15 years since 9/11 and when the War on Terror began, there have only been three other radical Islam-inspired attacks in Canada. On Oct. 20, 2014, Martin Couture-Rouleau used his car to kill Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and wound a second soldier in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.; he was then killed by Quebec police. Two days later, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, then stormed Parliament Hill. Zehaf-Bibeau wounded one security guard before dying in a hail of police bullets.
The only other attack, and this is a stretch, was the March 14 stabbing incident at a Toronto recruitment centre that left two soldiers with minor injuries. Ayanle Hassan Ali, the 27-year-old attacker, had claimed to be motivated by Allah.
None of these four attackers had any actual affiliation with Daesh.
Forgotten by those who would buy into the Donald Trump rhetoric of fearing all things Islam is the fact that non-Muslim-inspired attackers have been far more deadly for Canadian security forces during that same post-9/11 timeframe.
There was the June 4, 2014 rampage by Justin Bourque in Moncton, N.B. that killed three RCMP officers and severely wounded two other Mounties. After his arrest, Bourque claimed he was lashing out against an oppressive government.
Also disdainful of the law was James Roszko, who shot and killed four members of the RCMP on his farm in Mayerthorpe, Alta., back in March 2005.
Despite what the Daesh poster designers and Trump would have you believe, Islamic extremism is not the real threat to Canadian security. It is the disillusioned mentally ill from all walks of life who pose the threat. If Daesh wants our fear to prevent us from enjoying life, then the best way to defeat it is to enjoy life to the fullest. Don’t worry, be happy.
Scott Taylor is editor and publisher of Esprit de Corps magazine.
The Hill Times
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