Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, December 18, 2015

Parents' Dilemma

"This sad story is that of a young boy submerged by the messages of violence, of vengeance and of war issued by the Islamic State."
"By alerting the authorities, his parents probably saved his life."
"How many others out there are dreaming of leaving Canada for the ranks of Islamic State like the accused?"
Judge Dominique Wilhelmy, Quebec Court youth division

"I said, 'Why are you doing that? It is not a battle. ... It is terrorism. ... You're not going to go to paradise by dying there. You are going to kill innocent people. You will commit crimes there."
"He doesn't answer. He doesn't answer."
Father of jihadi teen, Montreal

"We have to promote his rehabilitation, his re-entry into society, all the while maintaining the protection of the public in the case of terrorist infractions."
"We'll wait for the results of the report to be able to evaluate what's appropriate [in recommending a sentence], considering it's a youth who was convicted today." 
Marie-Eve Moore, federal prosecutor
Montreal courthouse

It's a sad thing when parents understand that their children in their teens for one reason or another become alienated, difficult to interact with, demanding and dismissive at one and the same time, and pose a risk to harming themselves through developing unhealthy interests and engaging in dangerous pursuits. Parents of a thirteen-year-old boy who had emigrated from Algeria when their son was four, to live in Canada, would have had no idea that their son's future would be so problematic.

He had been an outstanding student, winning a bursary to attend an elite private Montreal high school. And then his studies began to suffer and his school grades plummeted and he no longer had any interest in engaging with his parents. At the age of 15 the boy -- who under Canadian youth-protection laws remains unnamed as do his parents -- robbed a convenience store, threatening harm with a knife in the process.

The money he stole was to be set aside for use to allow him to travel to Syria, where he would fulfill his obligation as a faithful Muslim, to engage in jihad. He had faulted his parents for not being sufficiently involved in the kind of activities that drew his attention, to the point where several times he used his parents' credit card data to try to send funding to an unnamed group in Lebanon in support of the conflict against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

That would, needless to say, be Hezbollah. And while striking a blow against the Syrian tyrant who is slaughtering his own people may not sound horrendous, supporting a terrorist group on Canada's list can certainly be classified as criminal action. When he once again attempted to use his parents' credit cards; on this occasion to attempt to arrange a one-way ticket to Gaziantep, Turkey near the Syrian border, his father was alarmed.

The parents had discovered that their son had been diligently accessing jihadi propaganda via the Internet since the age of 13. Parental computer-Internet-access controls were no hindrance; he managed to evade them. A later police search of the boy's hard drive discovered ten issues of the al-Qaeda propaganda magazine Inspire there, as well as other jihadi-self-help publications.

Last year, the parents found a telephone number they couldn't identify on a piece of paper in their son's pocket. They began to fear he might "commit an attack because of his interest in the Islamic State", as the judge put it. That telephone number was Martin Couture-Rouleau's, the jihadist who killed a member of the Canadian Armed Forces reserves standing guard at the National Cenotaph last November, and who sprinted into the Parliament buildings, with the same rifle that killed Corporal Vincent Cirillo.

When, during interrogation after he was taken into police custody, the-then 16-year-old was informed that his contact had killed a Canadian soldier, he expressed satisfaction: "well done". The Muslim RCMP officer that led his interrogation was labelled by the youth a "traitor" and "apostate". Canada, he asserted was "a land [house] of war", which in Islam simply means any non-Muslim country which is meant to be attacked by the "land [house] of peace", which is Islam.

The teen's father was convinced his son had laid plans to reach Syria to dedicate himself to fighting for either ISIL or Jabhat al-Nusra. Once his parents discovered hidden in their backyard their son's backpack with the knife and the money he had stolen from the convenience store, they questioned him further. His response was: "Give me back my bag and I will leave for good." Which was when they felt they had little option but to contact authorities.

He was subsequently convicted of committing a crime in the armed robbery, in association with a terrorist group. And convicted as well of the illegal act of attempting to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activity. The Crown is considering requesting that the teen be sentenced as an adult, awaiting the results of a pre-sentencing report and psychological assessment.

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