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Ottawa jihadi kept to himself, says acquaintance

Islamic leaders and politicians look for answers on John Maguire, the Canadian in the new Islamic State video


 

OTTAWA – John Maguire, a former Ottawa man who appears in a new extremist recruiting video, seemed to lack close friends in Canada and kept his distance from others, says an acquaintance who used to pray with him.

“People had very superficial relationships with him,” said Stephane Pressault, who met Maguire four years ago during Friday prayers at the University of Ottawa.

Pleasantries were exchanged, but no deep ideas were shared, said Pressault, the national co-ordinator with outreach group Project Communitas.

“When you can’t have intimate conversations with someone … this young man was really quite isolated, no one really knew what he was thinking,” Pressault recalled.

“It’s not that he was a loner. But he didn’t share his opinions on things. And he didn’t have … a best friend, or a clique, or a group of people that he always turned to.

“In retrospect, that’s alarming.”

Project Communitas is grappling with the phenomenon of Islamic radicalization as part of its mission to foster citizenship, dialogue and youth leadership.

“I think the common sign is really social isolation,” Pressault said.

“How can we engage these individuals who are isolated, who are not in the mainstream and following the majority of the Muslims in Canada?”

Maguire’s polished propaganda video, released Sunday, urged Muslims to launch indiscriminate attacks against Canadians, similar to those carried out in October in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

Maguire — whose passport was apparently revoked after he left Canada — likely became “fed up” with Canadian society at some point, said Jocelyn Belanger, a psychology professor at the University of Quebec at Montreal who has studied radicalization around the world.

Belanger surmises Maguire could have been spurred to join radical Islamic militants overseas because he didn’t fit in at home and felt insignificant — a typical motivation for extremists.

“The loss of significance deeply hurts,” Belanger told the Senate committee on national security and defence.

One can regain prominence by building a successful career or becoming a role model, Belanger said, but such accomplishments take time.

“The highway to significance, if you wish, is fighting for radical ideology — which provides significance through a demonstration of power, harming victims and inducing fear in others.”

This is why propaganda created by the al-Qaida splinter group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, has been so effective, he added: “Their ideology dictates the actions required to become a hero, a martyr, a rock star.”

The government has pointed to the latest video and the spectre of attacks by homegrown radicals as evidence of the need for additional legislative tools to protect Canadians.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney reiterated Monday that new anti-terrorism legislation is coming, but he offered no specifics or even a timeline.

The government should be “throwing money hand over fist” at the RCMP’s fledgling program to counter violent extremism, University of Ottawa law professor Craig Forcese told the committee.

The problem of radicalization cannot be solved solely through prosecutions and penitentiaries, he warned.

Canadians must accept that efforts to discourage extremism will go on for years, said Jez Littlewood, who teaches at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

“It involves outreach to communities, it’s going to involve a substantial element of trust between communities and authorities for it to work.”

Pressault said it is disturbing to think someone can come to believe Islam means going to fight abroad or to wage war against Canadians.

“It’s something that the whole community is thinking about,” he said. “How do we engage these young people who may be prone to that?”

 


 
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Ottawa jihadi kept to himself, says acquaintance

  1. A ‘frisson of fear’?? Be serious.

    Some crackpot making a video doesn’t frighten youtube culture.

    We have vids by ministers seeing demons, Armageddonists, UFOnaughts, time-travellers, pagans, spiritualists….they’re all serious, and they’re all crazy…..and you think this particular kook is scary??

  2. Why is it when most Canadians and Americans hear the word “extremism” to-day they immediately think of Muslims. How about the extreme Christian, born-again fundamentals? They are about as wacko as one can get. Some of Harper’s base, by the way.
    If we didn’t have good law and order in the US and Canada, some of these people would become violent as well. Abortion clinic murders are a case in point.
    Both extreme Islam and extreme Christianity have the same base line:

    Our God is the one and only God.
    Jesus and Mohammad are the sons of God.
    Non believers will burn in hell.
    Armageddon is just around the corner.
    Women need to stay in the home and obey their husbands.
    Education is not allowed for women.
    Physical punishment toward children is allowed.
    Not allowed to associate with non believers.
    Science and rationale thought is evil.
    No music, card/board games, no dancing or having fun not allowed.
    Humans are the image of God.
    Humans reign over all other creatures and the environment.

    That’s just a few of the similarities. We need to be vigilant in both cases.

    • Agreed. Domestic terrorism ….christian….is one of our major problems.

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