COLUMN: Preserving a free country from within

Somehow, for so many, Canada seemed beyond the reach, or even interest, of Islamic extremist terrorists.

COLUMN: Preserving a free country from within

Somehow, for so many, Canada seemed beyond the reach, or even interest, of Islamic extremist terrorists.

We sat secure and perhaps just a little smug behind our porous borders, and offered sympathy and, in some cases, self-righteous judgment, as our U.S. neighbours writhed in shock and grief after a group of terrorists flew jet airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing thousands.

We watched television reports of subway bombings in Britain and terrorist acts in France. We sent our soldiers to Afghanistan, where they fought alongside Americans to stem the fundamentalist Taliban tide.

With detachment, we followed the civil war in Syria, and with varying degrees of understanding or disinterest, watched it birth an entity that matched and eclipsed the brutal violence of al-Qaeda, responsible for the 9/11 attack. Also driven by extremely twisted interpretations of their religion, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, poses the intensely dangerous threat of destabilizing the entre Middle East, and exporting its extremist visions around the globe.

The Harper government recently decided – and rightly so – to send Canadian F-18 combat aircraft to join the coalition currently bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria in a long-term attempt to blunt their advances and agendas.

Through it all, most Canadians went about their daily business, some unaware, others simply unconcerned.

This is Canada after all, home of the wonderfully free and mildly naive.

And then on Monday, a young man, apparently inspired by the online urgings of an Islamic fundamentalist recruiter, “martyred” himself by driving his car at two Canadian soldiers on a street in Quebec, killing one of them. The assailant was later slain by police.

Two days later, the shock waves went to the core of the country from coast to coast, as a gunman fatally shot a soldier standing sentry at the National War Memorial near Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The assailant then went into the Parliament buildings, where multiple shots were fired, and he was eventually gunned down by the sergeant-at-arms.

Early indications are that he too was a subject of extremist Islamic indoctrination. He chose, or perhaps was instructed, to strike at one of the most prominent symbols of Canadian identity.

We can consider Canada to be on the list of nations of non-believers in the twisted minds of those who mangle their faith in justification of atrocious acts of violence and attempted dominance.

How terribly ironic that the soldiers who died in these incidents joined the forces to protect the very freedoms that are being abused by terrorists who live in this country, believe as they wish, and teach their evil in gatherings and via the Internet and social media.

That’s the truly unsettling factor in this. These individuals did not arrive in this country mere days or even months ago, foreign imported killers bent on violence. They grew up in our cities and towns. They may have received their indoctrination in the country, or from online sources from anywhere in the world.

Regardless, Canada has homegrown terrorists. How many more are out there? What do they intend to do?

It sounds cold, but compared to 9/11, this week’s incidents are small. The perpetrator(s) could easily have sent a hail of bullets into a bus full of school children or a shopping mall crowded with shoppers. They could have poisoned a community’s water supply  or sent an explosives-laden truck into the midst of a Remembrance Day ceremony.

Or maybe something like that is yet to come.

It would be highly unrealistic to believe this is over. It would be wildly naive to think the authorities can detect and prevent all other further attacks.

Canadian laws don’t permit law enforcers to arrest and detain for an indeterminate time anyone who merely talks about religious extremism, or even openly supports it.

This is, after all, a free country.

Now the acutely difficult challenge is to preserve it, from within.

Just Posted

Mackenzie Byers of Abbotsford is the valedictorian for the School of Nursing at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops.
Abbotsford woman is valedictorian of TRU school of nursing

Mackenzie Byers is graduating from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops

Harrison Hot Springs country singer Todd Richard poses for a photo with Mission firefighters. (Photo/Sarah Plawutski)
VIDEO: Harrison country artist Todd Richard plans for a busy, rockin’ summer

Richard and his band look to live shows as restrictions start to lift

Special weather statement issued for Fraser Valley as first summer heat arrives June 20, 2021, and set to persist all week. (Photo by James Day on Unsplash)
Second day of hot temperatures rippling across Fraser Valley

Communities from Abbotsford to Hope will see daytime high maximum temps of 32 degrees

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 following an assault. (File photo)
Trial underway in February 2020 death of White Rock senior

Ross Banner charged with manslaughter following Five Corners altercation

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read