Mr. Chairman, honourable members, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your invitation for my being here this evening.
I'll talk a little less about terrorism and perhaps a little more about political violence and extremism, and less about over there and more about over here. Public discussions recently have focused on ISIS-inspired attacks in Canada, France, Tunisia, Australia, and Denmark. However, this is not a new phenomenon. Starting in the early 1980s, Canada has produced a steady stream of individuals dedicated to Islamicist causes, and I use that term in the Raheel Raza sense of the term.
Ahmed Said Khadr, for instance, was radicalized in the early 1980s while a part of the Muslim Students Association at the University of Ottawa. He became a major financial and operational figure in al Qaeda, using taxpayers' money funnelled through the Human Concern International charity.
As noted by Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, and by the Muslim Brotherhood itself, the Muslim Students Association was founded by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qutbi al-Mahdi was a part of the Muslim Students Association at McGill University before becoming head of the foreign intelligence services of Sudan in 1989, when a Muslim Brotherhood-inspired government was running that country. Salman Ashrafi was president of the Muslim Students Association at the University of Lethbridge before he became a suicide bomber in Iraq, killing some 20 to 40 people, depending on which report you believe.
This recruiting, this extremism, does not occur in isolation. Canada has a deep series of networks that have the money, ideology, and infrastructure to encourage this activity. The intent of these organizations is to create a political, social, and cultural space where issues of extremism and political violence could be advanced, while opposition is silenced through claims of Islamophobia and racism. These extremist networks are created by groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut-Tahrir, and those loyal to Iran's Khomeinist movement. Information also suggests that in Canada right now Babbar Khalsa and the International Sikh Youth Federation are making a comeback—separate and distinct, of course, from the Islamicist groups.
Given the limited time this evening, I'll focus only on the brotherhood. According to the Quilliam Foundation, perhaps the world's leading institute on extremism, the Muslim Brotherhood is the intellectual inspiration behind virtually all of the Islamicist groups in operation today. This view is also held by a number of Middle Eastern scholars and by President el-Sisi of Egypt, who recently just made this rather clear in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928, has an objective of creating a global Islamicist state governed by their highly politicized interpretation of Islam. According to the Quilliam Foundation and the Muslim Brotherhood itself, they operate through a series of front organizations. The Muslim Brotherhood stated in the mid-1970s that they had walked away from violence, albeit their spinoff groups, such as the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, maintained their violent tendencies.
In January of this year, however, the Muslim Brotherhood officially announced through Ikhwanweb, their website, that they would return to a new path. They would seek out violence. They said, “a long, uncompromising jihad, and during this stage we ask for martyrdom”.
In addition to being anti-democratic, anti-secular, and anti-pluralist, the Muslim Brotherhood is also anti-female. I think it's reasonably fair to say they're flat-out misogynistic. For instance, the Muslim Students' Association of York University handed out free books for its annual Islam awareness week in February of this year. One of the books has a section on wife disciplining. It advises that wives should only be beaten as part of a three-part correction and educational process.
It also notes that there are different kinds of women in the world, and I quote, “Submissive or subdued women. These women may even enjoy being beaten at times as a sign of love and concern.” The name of the book, ironically, is Women in Islam & Refutation of some Common Misconceptions. Let me just say that again, “These women may even enjoy being beaten at times as a sign of love and concern.”
Hello, Margaret Atwood. Hello, feminists. Where are they on this sort of situation?
Also, last year Le Journal de Montréal raised the possibility that Mr. Chiheb Battikh, who had attempted to kidnap a Montreal billionaire's grandson for ransom, may have been a Muslim Brotherhood adherent and the kidnapping was to profit them. The five-page story was written by Andrew McIntosh in June 2014.
What about the view from the Middle East? In 2014 the United Arab Emirates produced a list of 86 organizations that are terrorist entities, front groups, proxy groups, finance providers, and/or weapons providers. The list was welcomed and approved by the Arab League. Among the global list of front organizations, two have their headquarters in the United States, with offices and personnel in Canada. These are CAIR-USA and the Muslim American Society. It is worth noting that there are more than 20 statements that have been made by CAIR-USA, CAIR-CAN, or NCCM, and the United States State Department. Among them, first, the United States State Department has identified that CAIR-CAN, now NCCM, is the Canadian chapter of CAIR-USA. CAIR-USA repeatedly claims that it has a Canadian chapter, which it calls CAIR-CAN. CAIR-CAN, NCCM itself, has repeatedly claimed in its own legal documents that it was formed to support CAIR-USA.
Quickly take a look at the mission of the Muslim Brotherhood. In their own words, in a 1991 document, after a 10-year review, they came out with this statement as part of a larger document:
The [Brothers] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands.
We see similar statements being made here in Canada. As of last week, Young Muslims in Canada still had their website up and we find a Dr. Fahmy quoting Hassan al-Banna, the founder the Muslim Brotherhood. What does he say? “Therefore prepare for jihad and be the lovers of death. Life itself shall come searching after you.”
If you wonder where the radicalization and extremism comes from, if you wonder why young people sometimes go off and do crazy things, you may want to start looking at some of this.
What are the effects of these networks? What's been happening? In October of 2014 the Ottawa-based president of the Assalam Mosque Association, a gentleman by the name of Abdulhakim Moalimishak, said that mainstream mosques in Canada are being challenged by extremists.
I would not say this is an isolated incident. I would say there are groups out there that are trying to have a foothold in Islamic centres.
In February of this year, a Calgary man testified to the senate, which I believe I'm supposed to call “the other place” when I'm here, that terrorist ideology is being preached in Canadian mosques and universities and that Ottawa—I presume he means the government—is slow to stop the “brainwashing”.
The CBC sent an undercover reporter into Montreal's Al Sunnah mosque. The video revealed a number of interesting statements, including the idea that they should, “kill all the enemies of Islam to the last.”
An Environics poll concerning the Toronto 18 arrests said that 12% of Canadian Muslims believe that the Toronto 18 attacks would have been justified and 5% of them said that they would welcome a terrorist attack in Canada.
My suggestion, Mr. Chair, and honourable members, is the denialists who say this sort of thing is not happening in mosques, it's not happening in our schools, it's not happening in our universities, are incorrect because we see a series of Canadian imams raising the issue, we see physical evidence coming out of the universities, and we see a variety of media examples.
With respect to Bill C-51, non-violent extremism can shroud itself in legitimacy. As far as Canadian values, the Constitution, and the Charter of Rights are concerned, I believe they're every bit as dangerous as those groups that are overtly dangerous and overtly violent. To face this, we need to change the definition and practices of security, including terms such as “deradicalization”. The bill does not address entryism in Canada or how the political process, charities, schools, and universities may be used to advance the cause of extremism. The honourable members may wish to follow the governments of the United Kingdom and France right now as they tackle these issues. You will see words such as “disrupt”, “entryism”, and “challenging the discourse of the Muslim Brotherhood” used in that context.
In closing, Mr. Chair, as in intelligence analyst—and I've been in that racket since 1986—I believe we're facing a rapidly evolving world where Canadian values and Canadians are now in the crosshairs of those who would undermine us from within, attack us from within, and attack us from without. As a former soldier deployed overseas, I have seen the results of what happens when extremists get in control. Bosnia and Croatia are good examples. People in Canada are currently shocked by the pictures of heads being cut off and held aloft as trophies. For those of us who served on the ground in Bosnia and Croatia, we saw pictures of severed heads being held aloft by foreign mujahedeen and by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. These were depressingly common sites and they showed up again when we were working at the war crimes tribunal.
As a citizen I have a slight different direction on this.
My belief is that we must keep the Immigration and Refugee Board, the Federal Court, and the criminal courts as open as possible. As a court expert on terrorism and as an individual who has expertise on the reliability of intelligence as evidence in the Federal Court, I helped train special advocates and judges. I believe they provided a valuable service to the country and to the intelligence community. The courts, admittedly, may be slow, awkward and on occasion, painful, but they are the key partners in the defence against extremism. I believe they are the ultimate form of oversight for the intelligence community and the law enforcement community. If we keep the courts open, if we keep them functioning, and if citizens and those charged have access to a court system, I believe we're good.
Mr. Chairman and honourable members, thank you.