"Self Radicalized" Jihadis
However many Canadians there are, they are perceived as a threat. There are said to be concerns within the Canadian security community that INSET (the Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams, which co-ordinates counterterrorism efforts nationally) is committing resources to the issue at the expense of other perceived threats as various as Hezbollah and the Mexican drug cartels. “Too many pucks coming at once,” one source notes.
There’s reason for concern. So far in 2013, about 10 Canadians have surfaced: in the Tigantourine massacre in Algeria, the VIA Rail incident, a pressure-cooker bomb plot in Victoria on Canada Day, and one, possibly two, are known to have been killed in Syria itself. All “self-radicalized” so far as we know.
There’s been self-radicalization since there’s been mass media. The personality profiles appear to be fairly well understood: a troubled individual with social disabilities; if you become a convert there is further pressure to prove yourself. Previous generations of extremists tended to shun the type; those who run today’s jihad actively look for them.
For Canada, radicalized jihadis coming home may not be the biggest issue. A lot of these kids are going to get killed. Most that return will be easier to identify coming back than going out. The more immediate problem may be their passports; they are usually confiscated at destination, and essentially become weaponized. And pre-emptive confiscation is hard to justify even assuming you can identify who’s leaving for where and why.
The al-Qaida end purpose has always been to build a critical mass of indoctrinated and trained fighters who would become the shock troops of the Caliphate. The objective blew up on them in Chechnya and in Afghanistan, but a prolonged Syrian war might actually achieve something like it. But a far more critical mass may lie in the estimated 1,750,000-plus refugees the war has created to date. Looked at beside that scale of suffering, a few dozen self-radicalized Canadians is a drop in the bucket.