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SECD - Standing Committee

National Security, Defence and Veterans Affairs


Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 11 - Evidence - Meeting of November 24, 2014

OTTAWA, Monday, November 24, 2014

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 1 p.m. to study and report on security threats facing Canada.

Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: I call this meeting to order. Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for Monday, November 24, 2014.

Before we welcome our witness, I would like to begin by introducing the people around the table. My name is Dan Lang, senator for Yukon. On my immediate left is the clerk of the committee, Josée Thérien. On my far right is our Library of Parliament analyst assigned to the committee, Holly Porteous. I would like to go around the table and invite the senators to introduce themselves and state the region they represent, starting with our deputy chair.

Senator Mitchell: Thanks, chair. Grant Mitchell, senator for Alberta, deputy chair.


Senator Dagenais: Jean-Guy Dagenais, from the Montreal region in Quebec.


Senator Stewart Olsen: Carolyn Stewart Olsen, New Brunswick.

Senator Beyak: Senator Lynn Beyak, Ontario.

Senator Ngo: Senator Ngo, Ontario.

The Chair: Thank you. Colleagues, on June 19, 2014, the Senate agreed that the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence would be authorized to study and report on security threats facing Canada, including, but not limited to, cyber espionage, threats to critical infrastructure, terrorist recruitment and financing, terrorist operations and prosecutions, and that the committee would report to the Senate no later than December 31, 2015.

This afternoon, the committee will be meeting for three panels as we look at the threats to Canada, specifically terrorism. Canadians are learning disturbing news about the threats we face. We now know that 93 Canadians are defined as high-risk travellers, that is, they are seeking to leave Canada to support ISIS. These people are under surveillance and in some cases have had their passports seized. In addition, there are 80 Canadians and dual nationals who have returned to Canada after providing material support for ISIS; and we now know there are 145 Canadians currently abroad with ISIS. Together, we have now a total of a minimum of 318 Canadians that are involved one way or the other with terrorism, and these are the ones known to our law enforcement officials.

To put it clearly, there are 173 radicalized individuals living amongst us and obviously consuming vast amounts of law enforcement resources while posing a threat to Canada and Canadians.

The committee has also learned that significant financial support leaves Canada to finance terrorism. FINTRAC, the agency that tracks terror funding and organized crime, tabled their annual report last week, which states they made 1,143 disclosures to law enforcement agencies in 2013-14, up from 919 the previous year. Of that, 234 were related to terrorist financing or threats to the security of Canada. This is very disturbing and will be examined as we move forward on this study of threats to Canada.

In our first panel today, we will be focused on what is happening in the social media sphere with a guest from SecDev Foundation. In the second and third panels, we will be hearing from prominent members of the Muslim community.

Colleagues, joining us today is Mr. Rafal Rohozinski, Senior Fellow of SecDev Foundation. Mr. Rohozinski has been a leading expert in cyberterrorism and espionage. He has played a key role in helping government understand the threats we face when it comes to cybersecurity and terrorism.

Commissioned by Public Safety Canada under the Kanishka Project, SecDev has been conducting a two-year study entitled ''Social Media Target Audience Analysis: Measuring the Impact of Counter Narrative Resources for Education Professionals in Canada.'' As part of this study, they are seeking to measure the impact of films created to counter narratives of violent extremism, especially in the social media space, as well as create an advanced tool kit for practitioners to help not only in measuring impact but also in more effectively tailoring and disseminating such educational resources for intended audiences.

Mr. Rohozinski, we are very pleased to have you here today. We look forward to your presentation. I understand you have an opening statement. Please begin.

Rafal Rohozinski, Senior Fellow, SecDev Foundation: Thank you, senator. Members of the committee, thank you for the privilege of addressing you today on the topic of social media and countering violent extremism. By way of background, I'm appearing as a witness today on behalf of the Ottawa-based SecDev Foundation, an operational think tank working at the intersection of technology and social change. SecDev Foundation is currently engaged in work on conflict and radicalization in Syria, Iraq, Latin America and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The foundation has also been a recipient of two grants from the Public Safety Canada Kanishka program and has conducted research in experimental work examining the phenomenon of online radicalization and the measures that can be taken to address populations at risk for radicalization. I will also state for the record that I'm also senior fellow for cyber and hybrid threats with the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, where these issues are also of significant concern.

If I may, I'd like to begin unconventionally with a story. Almost 24 years ago, at the end of the Cold War, I worked for a U.S. agency involved in the early years following the collapse of the former Soviet Union. My task at that time was to work with members of the former Soviet academic community, specifically those with skills in areas of nuclear physics and biochemistry. The intent was to civilianize their activities so as to prevent them from emigrating to countries such as North Korea and Libya. Our idea at that time was to reintegrate the scientists by connecting them to the global scientific community. Our solution was the Internet.

For those of you who remember the Internet 24 years ago, it was largely the preserve of around 14,000 scientists, mostly in North America and Europe. Back then, to the best of our knowledge, the Soviet Union had never developed the Internet. The technology was Western, foreign and at odds with networks that supported automated data processing in support of the centrally planned Soviet economy. Consequently, it was much to our surprise that upon visiting the closed institutes of the academy of sciences, we found the Internet, but this Internet was not built through state funds. Rather, it was built by the scientists themselves. They used pilfered computers and telephone lines to build, for all intents and purposes, a covert Internet not because of but despite of the Soviet state.

Soviet scientists were not the only ones to first appropriate technology to build a network. A clever 20-year-old Mafioso by the name of Semen Yufa in Kiev also built his own Internet. He realized that by connecting his casinos and brothels in real time he could gain an advantage over his competitors.

The point of the story is perhaps simple but also important: Technology rarely develops along the lines and purposes to which it was first designed. Human needs, whether they are altruistic or instrumental, will ultimately shape technology and the purposes to which it is put to use. This matters as we consider the degree to which the Internet — social media — has enabled and emboldened actors that are increasingly being recognized as a threat to Canadians and Canada's national security.

The Internet has grown at a phenomenal speed. It has colonized and transformed our daily lives beyond recognition. We currently take for granted and are reliant upon technologies that did not exist five years ago. We truly live in revolutionary times.

Currently, more than two thirds of all humanity is connected to broadband Internet. There are more cellphones on the planet than there are human beings. The online population is young. Two thirds of those currently online in the global era are under the age of 35; just over 50 per cent are under the age of 25. These are young adults entering into their most productive years of life. This is the population that is most motivated to change the circumstances of their lives. Their agency, the way they choose to express this, is being felt in different ways, from the booming new economy to the Internet, through to new forms of political activism, including ''hacktivism,'' which we have seen through the impact of groups as disparate as Anonymous, the Occupy movement, the Syrian Electronic Army and, more recently and graphically, the so-called Islamic State.

It is important to recognize the profound impact of the Internet. Looking from the perspective of the future, historians are likely to see this as an era of profound empowerment of individuals. More people in more places in the world are able to make fundamental decisions about their lives informed by knowledge and information. The globally contiguous nature of the Internet has made it possible to overcome the barriers of geography, ignorance and middlemen and has led to leaps in education, economic development and empowerment.

In fact, we at the foundation called this the era of open empowerment, where the ability of individuals to act has scaled faster than institutions and rules have been able to adapt. These are profound changes that have thrown up challenges to developing and advanced industrial nations alike. As in my example of 24 years ago, technology has created its own form of democracy where people have used it to actively affect the circumstances in their lives in ways that the inventors and vendors of these technologies could never have predicted.

More to the point, as the Internet has grown to encompass an ever-larger percentage of humanity, so too has it become reflective of the societies themselves. It is no longer the preserve of academia or the rich or the Western; it is now a reflection of the full spectrum of society, and that includes criminality, the views and beliefs of marginal populations, as well as the mentally ill.

The challenge, broadly seeking, is that the rules that we've developed over the decades in real space, not virtual space, are difficult to adapt to the new online world. Fundamental rights such as those of privacy, protest, freedom of speech and policing have taken decades, if not centuries, to codify in our legal system and have only begun to scratch the surface of what they will need to become to be relevant in the new online world.

Let me now turn to an issue which I know is of concern to this committee: the radicalization of Canadians through material found on the Internet, and especially social media and the degree to which this has been exploited by groups, including White supremacists, right-wing groups and the so-called Islamic State as a means of recruitment and incitement to violence.

In recent months, and especially in the wake of the tragic events in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa, the role of social media as a potential vector mobilizing young people into acts of violence has risen to the fore. Certainly there is merit to this concern.

Access to information and knowledge from the Internet has made it possible for individuals to seek meaning, communion and a motivation for action in solitude, mediated only through their Internet connection. Because the Internet connects the world, the ability of an individual to find just that specific meaning that motivates them into action — good, bad or ugly — is greater than in the era where their interaction with people, ideas and institutions was circumscribed by education, economic means, language and the ability to travel.

It is also true that groups seeking to incite violence have leveraged the ability to reach out and touch the individual as a means of spreading their message and influence. As an example, a principal difference between al Qaeda and the Islamic State is that the former was a conspiracy. Al Qaeda members shared bonds of trust, usually forged through face-to-face relationships or a vetting process that ensured that every member of that organization was known to someone. The so-called Islamic State is more of a brand, spreading an aspirational liturgy, calling on individuals to find their own path into taking action. This is why their message is effective, especially among those who feel the need or desire to become part of a cause larger than themselves.

While this is true of those who follow the creed of IS, Islamic State, it is equally applicable to those who ascribe to radical views on the environment, extreme libertarian views or racism.

While it is relatively easy to agree on the nature of the problem, proposing a solution is far more challenging, first of all because the science is incomplete at the moment. While we have significant anecdotal evidence that leads us to suspect that the Internet does play a role in radicalization, we do not as of yet have conclusive studies that lay out how exactly it contributes to that process.

Second, cyberspace is a domain which is unique in that it is described entirely in data. It is far easier to find, identify and track an individual and groups than it is in any of the other domains of land, air or sea. There is a fundamental risk that in exercising this technical capability of finding individuals — by that I mean not just the capability of organizations such as the NSA but the information that is gathered by organizations as disparate as banks, credit agencies, online social media platforms and search engines — the fundamental rights that define our society, including the right to privacy and of due process before the law, may be thwarted or trampled and the social contract between citizens and the state silently rewritten.

The revelations made by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden point to some of the dangers implicit to addressing through national security law what may be issues that have a deeper, more fundamental impact on advanced democratic societies, as they have the potential to touch on all aspects of our lives: profiling individuals based upon their genetic risk of disease, insurance, life chances, et cetera. These are issues that must be taken into consideration and require a much more fundamental, deep-seated debate than one focusing on the risks of radicalization and its relationship to the Internet and national security.

At the same time, one of the characteristics of modern societies has been the ability to address and manage risk which balances the interests and rights of citizens and collective responsibilities such as security.

The work of the SecDev Foundation under two consecutive Kanishka grants has focused on this challenge. Through a series of controlled experiments and policy engagements, we have explored the role of social media in the process of radicalization and the means by which technology could be applied within prescribed policy to facilitate community security by identifying those communities at risk of radicalization.

Our inspirational starting point here was twofold. First was public health surveillance, which uses data as a means of identifying risks to public safety emanating from the spread of disease by using anonymized statistical monitoring.

The second starting point was in some of the path-breaking work done on community policing, where police forces working together with social welfare organizations seek to identify communities at risk before they come into contact with the law enforcement community. In both cases, our key takeaway here was the importance of looking for local community engagement and seeking community responses to risks rather than elevating them to a response requiring national institutions of state or the criminal justice system.

The work is challenging and not without its risks. A workshop we held earlier this year that brought together the federal Privacy Commissioner with representatives from Canada's security agencies and university-based researchers recognized the gaps that exist in Canada's privacy legislation that make it difficult to develop policy or guidance for the government, law enforcement or even community groups engaged in this work.

However, at the same time, some early path-breaking work was accomplished, suggesting how it might be possible to identify risk not by targeting or profiling individuals or groups but rather by identifying content hallmarks that are associated with radical views and potentially working backwards to develop narratives, strategies and approaches to narratives that aim at engagement and reducing the level of risk to communities and individuals.

Not unlike public health surveillance and violence reduction work undertaken by the WHO, our hunch was and remains on the importance of risk factors and not targeting specific groups of individuals. While I would stress that all of this work is still something in progress, our thinking is that identifying hallmarks of radicalization in content as a means of seeking out points for appropriate intervention is the best way forward to balance the critical equation of privacy and collective security.

We would equally stress the need to identify, engage and work with community gatekeepers, such as teachers, schools, community groups, leaders and medical or mental health practitioners, often because the message and material that exist in cyberspace are not available to those engaged on the ground in real life. They simply may not be aware of the content hallmarks that are making an impact on their communities.

Making them aware effectively arms them with the means to engage in debate, through education and other means, so as to provide a reality check and a means to discuss issues that impact and have effect, especially on the youth and individuals and communities already feeling marginalized and excluded from society.

In some respects this work is still aspirational, as even the basic mapping of key community gatekeepers and their influence intersection with social media is underdeveloped. Quite simply, we do not have the equivalent of Yellow Pages of community gatekeepers in cyberspace quite in the same way as we do in physical space. There is much fundamental work that still needs to be done on these basics.

At the same time, while this work is new and experimental, it is applied and practical. Here I would commend the objectives of the Public Safety Canada Kanishka program that has made this avenue of research and cooperation between public and applied research institutions a reality.

One of the emerging lessons learned we have taken away from this process thus far is the need for restraint — to always default to a more conservative stance on privacy and to avoid seeing counter-narrative or counter-violent-extremism work exclusively through the lens of policing or national security law.

Self-radicalization to violent extremism is a relatively new phenomenon, made possible through the emergence of the Internet and social media. But that does not mean that everyone who follows this path is either committed or necessarily compos mentis. Besides the clear dangers of undue surveillance that risks the very democratic values upon which our society is founded, intervention should also be carefully managed, based upon assessments that determine whether the best path forward is through the social welfare system or the criminal justice system.

Further, the marginalization of already marginalized populations runs the risk of a more systemic and intransigent adherence to violent ideologies. This is a lesson that has been learned by our community leaders and police forces in the province of Saskatchewan, for example, and others who have experimented with community approaches to violence reduction. It is a lesson we should well consider as we move to enact new powers for policing cyberspace and addressing the issue of violent extremism online.

Finally, in closing, I would make one further observation, which is specifically relevant for those who have chosen to take up arms outside of the borders of Canada. The issue of foreign fighters represents a challenge, as crimes or acts of violence occurring outside of Canada raise the issue of whether individuals choosing to do so should retain the privilege of being Canadian citizens. In the global era of instant 24-7 access to information via the Internet and social media, the temptation, as well as the possibility, for young Canadians to act on emotion and join global causes carries a very low threshold.

Thousands of Canadians serve overseas with NGOs and humanitarian organizations or in travel and educational opportunities abroad. Several hundred have chosen to fight in foreign causes and foreign wars, including a young Canadian Israeli woman currently fighting with Kurdish forces in northern Syria. For many of these young people, first contact with the realities of war will bring disillusionment. Many will want to come home. Many will also suffer from the same stresses and disorders that affect our fighting men and women in the Armed Forces.

These people do need our help and consideration. Creating an environment and policy that allows them to reintegrate back into Canadian society not only will allow us the opportunity to recover some of this youth but also may serve as a powerful beacon, a means and a mechanism to engage and possibly deter others from following the path to violence.

I thank you for your attention and look forward to your questions.

The Chair: Thank you, sir.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you very much. That was very compelling, and it's difficult to know where to begin because you've covered so much and you've outlined so many of the issues that need to be addressed.

Maybe I can get down to a more specific level and say that clearly your organization has received money to look at the influence on radicalization of people through films, through content that they could receive in any number of ways. I was just in Latvia talking to Latvian officials who are having the same problem with Russian television programming being beamed into Latvia — not even surreptitiously but right on channels — to a Russian minority that is getting a different world view, maybe or maybe not, but they are concerned that they are.

My first question would be based on your statement that really struck me. You said there isn't a lot of work being done on the techniques, the impact and the methodologies of radicalization through the Internet. Could you confirm that my impression of that is right?

Second, could you tell me what you are doing with the $147,000 you have received that seems to be addressing that issue?

Mr. Rohozinski: Sure. First of all, let me make it clear: Quite a lot of work is being done, both funded through the Kanishka program as well as more broadly among the academic community and in countries like the U.K., where the issue of radicalization online has risen to the fore around the impact of the Internet on the process of radicalization.

However, I think what's also clear is that the science there to actually show the degree to which the Internet plays a role in someone's path in radicalization is still underdeveloped. We simply don't have enough information yet to be able to determine exactly what role it plays. We know it plays a role, but in order to be able to design strategies and approaches for being able to minimize its effect, work against that, work at the community level, that requires more evidence than we currently have.

Add to that a very important challenge, which is that social media and Internet presence, because it is a domain that is described in data, gives an unprecedented granularity and ability for organizations — forget about whether it's the state or whether it's commercial entities — to actually identify and track individuals. If I were to ask you what kind of company is Google, you would probably be very surprised if I answered that it's an advertising company, but it is. Ultimately, its ability to give you utility through a search function is to be able to profile your behaviour online in order to better understand you as a potential consumer.

A lot of the work we undertook during the first Kanishka program — not the second Kanishka grant that we operated under — was to look at the bounds to which policy existed to be able to enable either government or community groups to apply technology, to understand and study the process of radicalization, as well as develop techniques for detecting radicalized communities and to determine which of those could be best applicable within a policy framework for the use of either government or community groups.

Now, our conclusion to the first tranche of Kanishka work was that, one, there is an absence of fundamental policy in law that could even provide guidance on how to begin leveraging social media for either community security or law enforcement purposes. As senators, you're probably aware that legislation updating lawful intercept technology has been delayed for years through the parliamentary system. Even the updated version of those laws doesn't scratch the surface of some of the issues that need to be covered once you start looking at things like social media, where you're dealing with public data and not intercepted data.

The second issue is that once the technology is actually created, how do you channel it in such a way that you can look for the statistical presence of radicalization or potentially at-risk communities without profiling or identifying specific individuals? The idea here again is to use the World Health Organization approach to understanding the prevalence of disease, where it's not important that you or your sister are sick but that a certain vector of disease exists within a particular community as a means of being able to identify means to counter it. So our first program was almost exclusively focused on that policy and technology piece.

The second Kanishka grant under which we worked shifted gears. We were partnered with an organization that has worked extensively in the U.K. with already radicalized communities or communities that are at risk of radicalization. They have created, through their expertise, a series of films which target specific communities or, broadly speaking, communities at risk of radicalization — because I don't want to narrow this down to one community, but the danger of radicalization.

What we did for them, as part of that and as part of our contribution to the Kanishka program, was to apply some of our methodology for being able to map community gatekeepers, essentially create a Yellow Pages of gatekeepers that exist within a community — by this, I'm talking about a geographic community, such as London, Ontario, or Windsor or Ottawa — so as to be able to see that when they message into that community through their films, who is actually responding to that. Where are the people for whom that sticks the most? It's almost a different use of the same kind of technology that's used by advertisers to understand whether their brand resonates, but here the intention is to see the pathways of how that content can be spread through key gatekeepers that make the jump from the online world to the physical world, so literally going from a social media or Facebook page to a YMCA or a medical practitioner's office or some other community group, teachers, where that content can be discussed and can create at least a basis for a counter-narrative against that which is being received through online means.

The Chair: Did you follow that?

Senator Mitchell: Some of it, yes. What it really underlines is just how complicated this is.

One of the interesting — maybe I'm being a devil's advocate — conundrums here is on the one hand you're saying we don't really have a scientific methodology for determining what the impact of the Internet might be. At the same time, you are saying there are impediments or gaps in privacy law that would allow us to explore or surveil the Internet to catch people doing things or to find out whether it is having an impact.

Do we know that the Internet is where the radicalization, or some of it, is occurring? Do we know that? Can you say that with some certainty? Or is it happening because there's an influential 22-year-old who has returned from school in Syria and is talking to a bunch of his buddies wherever in the community?

Mr. Rohozinski: Let me be clear about this. The methodology is there. What is lacking is enough data points to say conclusively exactly what role social media plays in the process of radicalization. We know it is important, we know it plays a role, but whether it is more important or less important than the 22-year-old talking to his buddies, that's the question where we simply don't have enough data.

I would say the Kanishka program was specifically formulated to create the ability to do this kind of research because doing this kind of research purely in a university environment is difficult. The ethics of doing first-person subject research, the policy constraints that exist around it if you were going to be doing it in government labs, make it an extremely challenging area to work in.

Senator Mitchell: Isn't this kind of research going on all over the world? Isn't the EU or the U.S. doing it? Hasn't somebody figured it out, or are you saying we are at a point where we don't know?

Mr. Rohozinski: I think we're at a point where everybody is actively experimenting. Everybody recognizes the nature of the problem, but being able to identify the solutions, that's the challenging part.

What I tried to lay out in my talk is that there are several pillars of challenge. One pillar of challenge is the fact that we don't have norms, much less policy or law, that create guidance.

Second, there are lots of risks implicit in the technology, which really sort of put us in a careful balance of whether or not going towards exploiting the full benefit of what the technology could bring actually starts rewriting the social contract between individuals and states. That's a very important point.

Senator Mitchell: In a sense, how do you bring it all together? Where does this get coordinated? There's so much that needs to be done. Some of it is being done elsewhere. Your group is one. You are obviously an expert in this, you know a lot about it, but who is to add up, sort of list all the issues that need to be confronted and assign them and make sure the research is being done, the questions are being asked and we get the answers we need? Where in Canada could that be done and how?

Mr. Rohozinski: So I guess there's a question: Where in Canada or where it can be done. On a global level, it does occur. There's a network of global scholars working on this, all of whom are tied in with government institutions to one extent or another. This is an active area. If you look across the U.K., France, the U.S., Israel and elsewhere, you will see a very active community.

In Canada, it is my impression that Public Safety Canada, both through the Kanishka program and its individual grants as well as the network it has now chosen to put together amongst researchers, is building that kind of community. From my observation, that community has had the support of both public institutions for whom this is an operational consideration, as well as made the outreach into universities where this work needs to happen at a fundamental level.

On a bridging level, the one thing I would say is only to heap praise on the Kanishka program and say that it is really good that it exists, because it has created a locus where this kind of research, which is risky, which has fundamental challenges to norms of our society and, as you can see, touches both law, individual rights, as well as the technology part, needs to happen.

Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you, Mr. Rohozinski, for coming and trying to provide us with some understanding of this complicated issue. I'm going to try to bring this down to, I will say, my level, the Luddite level.

In your methodology, you review social media sites. What I found very interesting about your introduction was that you identify hallmarks in those social media sites that would raise flags with you that perhaps this should be better investigated.

I understand, from all of what you are talking about, about methodology. What hallmarks do you find as indicators?

Mr. Rohozinski: These could be specific videos, specific images.

Senator Stewart Olsen: Of what, though? Hive it right down to the simplest form you can.

Mr. Rohozinski: It is difficult to say, because I'm talking about a broad community. What will stick with Islamic State is different than what sticks with White supremacists in London, Ontario, so invariably the images will change.

By looking at this statistically, looking at content which seems to cluster the highest concentration of either individuals who are holding radical views or binds communities together — and these are algorithmically discoverable — that gives us a starting point to say, ''Aha. This is a hallmark for action.'' Whether it is a beheading video, whether it happens to be the 14 words that are used by White supremacists, generally speaking, this is a tag that can be used when looking through public data.

I need to make it clear here. When I look at social media sites, I'm not looking at individuals or things that individuals have put privacy restrictions on. I'm looking only at the stuff that is publicly visible, but it is compelling enough and, certainly in the experimental work that we have done, accurate enough to really give us a measure of who is at risk from this content both in terms of demographics, in other words, what age group, as well as specific location.

Senator Stewart Olsen: Have you identified through your work things that have raised alarm bells and communicated that to someone?

Mr. Rohozinski: The work that we are doing is as a public research grant. In other words, I have no authority or permission from the Crown or elsewhere to support directly the work of community groups or, let's say, of government agencies.

We have certainly shared our findings in terms of what has worked, what hasn't worked, what are the sort of policy implications of that with, as I said, groups as disparate as the security agencies and the Privacy Commissioner. In fact, we sought their input and support in a lot of the work we were doing.

On the present phase of the Kanishka grant where we are working and teamed with an organization that has actually created counter-narrative videos, we did provide them with a template to say, ''Okay. If this is where you are going to be distributing it, here is the Yellow Pages of all community groups and gatekeepers.''

What we will be doing in the second phase is actually looking at the impact as the videos are rolled out to see what impact it is having, not just in cyberspace, but in the real space where people interact with people.

Senator Stewart Olsen: It is almost like a quality assurance program. You put out your premise, and then you are going to check afterwards to see if that premise is correct.

Mr. Rohozinski: Correct. We identify the community, broadly speaking, at risk, and then we look for the actual impact of counter-narrative work that is being carried out by a third group to see where it resonates, how it resonates, whether it has impact.

I will say the group we're working with has had a lot of experience working with at-risk communities in the U.K., where, as you probably are aware, this issue is much more severe than it is here in Canada. We are drawing upon their expertise in the work that we're doing.

Interestingly enough, they knew, through anecdotal evidence, that social media and the online world was important to their work, but they had no means of being able to measure it. That's what we're providing in this project, the means of being able to identify the target audience and also to measure the effectiveness and impact of this work.

Senator Stewart Olsen: You develop your own algorithms?

Mr. Rohozinski: We develop our own methodology, yes.


Senator Dagenais: Thank you, Mr. Rohozinski. In your presentation, you spoke about creating a tool kit that would be given to teachers to measure the impact of the actions that might be taken, and you also said that the kit is intended to be used as an educational tool for the public.

Do you know who will benefit from this study and this tool kit?


Mr. Rohozinski: If I understand you correctly, the issue is what is the actual benefit being done for the beneficiaries of the work we're doing specifically in the educational sector.

Unfortunately, in the way that our grant was structured this time around, we had proposed and we left in the proposal direct work with educators because we understand educators to be an extremely important gatekeeper community that in many ways is less prepared to deal with the issue of radicalization than they are with the problem of dental care, for example, where Murphy the Molar comes into the school and distributes toothbrushes. However, when we made the proposal there weren't enough funds to cover the work to be done directly with the educators. In the agreement we made with Public Safety Canada, we left it in the proposal. As we move through the effectiveness measurement of ''can a narrative work,'' we would package that up as a means of a second phase that we would then push out to the educators. The intent is very much to put the emphasis there because to us, as I mentioned in my opening remarks and hopefully have emphasized in response to questions, we see the gatekeepers as being the most important component here.


Senator Dagenais: In your opinion, what other country could use this tool kit? Have you considered that other countries could use it?


Mr. Rohozinski: Yes, I would say here that among the English-speaking countries, the United Kingdom is far more advanced in terms of recognizing the importance of an integrated, all-agency response to the problem of radicalization, which means looking at social services, educational services, mental health services, as well as the criminal and justice system and others in responding to the challenge of radicalization.

In the recent past I've seen a lot of work starting to come out of France in particular, where a similar set of circumstances has appeared.


Senator Dagenais: Have other similar studies been done in Canada or other countries abroad?


Mr. Rohozinski: Interestingly enough, if you look at the Kanishka program, it has probably as many international participants as it does Canadian participants. The same is true for most national efforts.

For example, in a completely other line of work, we are involved in looking at social media from a national securities perspective for both the U.K. and the U.S. governments. I would say that the problem is almost the same for everyone. As a result, the experimentation, although it's being supported through different means, takes on more or less the same character. There is equivalence in terms of the range. As I said, there's a pretty good and fundamental international network. Therefore I don't think Canada misses out in any way or doesn't benefit from efforts being done elsewhere, nor do others miss out or lack a benefit from what is done here in Canada.

Senator Beyak: We're told some argue that we can't shut down sites because they're hosted by foreign servers. What would one do to block sites that are espousing hatred and radicalization, in your opinion?

Mr. Rohozinski: That's a very tough question. Here I'd go back to previous work that I did before the Kanishka program. For about 10 years, I've been principal investigator on a program called the Open Learning Initiative, which together with the University of Toronto, Harvard and Cambridge has looked at the emergence of policies and practices aimed at creating, filtering, blocking national borders in cyberspace.

In our experience over those 14 years, the one thing we can say is that most states that attempt to block sites fail miserably. The reason being links back to the story I told at the beginning of my presentation, which is that individuals invariably find ways around this. If they're determined, they'll find it. If they don't find it in the open Internet they'll find it in the dark web. In fact, many of the forums used for the coordination of jihadi groups up till about three years ago existed in something called the dark web, which means sites that are actually not visible on the public Internet, where you needed to have special permission to be able to enter into it.

The technical means for policing cyberspace are tremendously difficult. You've already pointed to an issue of jurisdiction. If we were, for example, to go to the government of the Russian Federation and say, ''Please stop making it possible for site X to be hosted out of a service provider within the terrain of the Russian Federation,'' they would say, ''Great, we will, as soon as you start blocking these five Chechen websites that we've asked you to take offline that have been hosted in the United States for the last five years.'' There's a great deal of difficulty that way.

At the same time, we've become quite sophisticated in the way we deal with child pornography online, creating non-governmental organizations requiring consent before people enter into particular sites, in other words, creating speed bumps along the way that at least deter those who may be simply casual viewers from necessarily entering into these particular websites.

To me that kind of lightly, lightly, softly, softly approach for the moment probably is the best because it takes care of the 75 per cent problem of people that would casually go into these sites because there is no deterrence. It wouldn't really deal with the 25 per cent that will, but that is a separate challenge we need to look at.

Clearly, we need to develop rules for policing cyberspace. As cyberspace has become a reflection of society at large, it seems almost anomalous the rules we have in physical space on behaviour aren't applied there. If my child were to go to school with a T-shirt with a beheading on it, immediately parents, teachers and others would become involved. If he posts a photograph of that to his Facebook page, who notices? Who cares? Who intervenes? There is a gap that exists there. I can't pretend I know the answer to it, but I know that addressing it is both important and requires a great deal of care and caution.

Senator Beyak: Thank you. That was a very thorough answer.

Senator White: I was going to ask some questions around blocking, but instead I'll ask you some questions around reporting and setting those norms and talk about child pornography because that is what we've seen in Canada. There's a belief that there's a responsibility for reporting, and some would argue we will actually move to an actual requirement that providers report.

When you talk about articulating the norms, who would you suggest articulate the norms of acceptance? It's easy in a school with a photograph of a beheading. Who would set those norms for us in the Internet world? Would you recommend that we have a requirement that there be reporting from providers? Obviously blocking from your perspective is almost impossible, if not impossible.

Mr. Rohozinski: Again, I would go back to the way that we've handled the issue of child pornography. Would reporting work? Reporting has the risk that identifying radical content isn't quite the same as identifying child pornography. Child pornography is pretty evident by what it is. Radical content is open to a lot more interpretation. As a result, it requires a slightly more refined approach.

Certainly reviewing would be important — in other words not simply letting these things exist in the wild. We are some time off before we can confidently say what would be categories of reporting. That would require a broader discussion in terms of seeing whether or not some forms of what we may consider radical content fit within the spectrum of acceptable political protest and agency before we made those kinds of categorical decisions.

I'd state for the record something I've stated to a number of committees before which I've testified: I'm really surprised, given the importance that cyberspace now plays in this disjunction between the online and offline worlds, that we haven't had a royal commission to examine it in its fullness — not just its impact on radicalization or national security, but how it impacts on Canadians and their relationship as citizens to the state and other institutions. In my mind that's almost the starting point before we can get into the nitty-gritty of issues such as whether or not we can establish norms for reporting radical content online.

Senator White: Thank you for that.

You brought up the photograph of a beheading on a T-shirt, and whether or not it would even cross a line into hate crime is questionable in Canada today. Do we need to actually look at whether or not our hate crime legislation has kept up with the realities of 2014 and what many of us would construe at least as hatred toward a specific group often perpetrated by an individual or another group?

Mr. Rohozinski: Absolutely, and I would go back to the public health analogy. Over time we have recognized that not washing your hands can lead to the rise in incidence of some diseases. Interesting studies have been done on the effects of pornography on young children and what prolonged exposure does to their emotional development. I'm sure there are also lessons to be learned about radical content, precipitation of hatred and how that may change norms. But again, it's a big question to some extent and one that requires focus before we can start searching for solutions.

Senator White: You talked about blocking not being successful. Most often when we talk about blocking sites we talk about China, Russia and others, but more recently we saw Iceland and I think the U.K. talking about blocking some pornography sites, for example. Have they been unsuccessful as well?

Mr. Rohozinski: The U.K. has taken an interesting approach. You are required to attest that you are 18 years before you reach these sites. In other words, it creates impediments for an individual to make a choice — do I lie? Do I not lie? — before I actually engage in this activity.

Senator White: That's the equivalent of blocking?

Mr. Rohozinski: Yes, but it's one that pushes it not on the technical level — it's not a machine making a choice for you — but it's you as an individual who has to make a choice. That's what I talk about when I say we need to develop rules. The rules are not just those in law; they're also the rules and norms, if you like, and customs and how we effectively raise people to become citizens in cyberspace, which is currently absent.

Senator White: Thank you. Again, I apologize for being late.

The Chair: You mentioned two grants that have been made available to your company for the purpose of this research. Do I take it the first grant application for the work that was required has been completed?

Mr. Rohozinski: Correct, yes.

The Chair: If it has been completed, is it a public document? If it is, can you provide us with it?

Mr. Rohozinski: I can do better than that. We held a public workshop that summated the work that was done and are in the process of launching a website that not only summarizes our research but also the research and methodology that has been done by upwards of 60 other groups. It is literally going to be possible to look and see what others have tried, how it's applicable and where it's applicable. That was the intent.

Our program was really there to try to take a big picture of policy and technology. We realized it was a complex problem and that rather than issuing recommendations, really creating a much more systemic access to the research that's been done that can inform others was the way forward.

I would be very pleased to let the committee know when that is launched, hopefully without too much delay; I imagine the middle of December or so.

The Chair: I assume I'll have to sign in that I am 18.

Mr. Rohozinski: You will not be filtered, senator.

Senator Mitchell: Maybe this is tangential to your expertise, but given the complexity of identifying the impact of the Internet, how you might counter that message, as the chair just whispered to me, we know that a person is reading the bad message; why would he bother to read the good message? How do you get him to read the good message? I will ask that question. How does the counter-messaging work? You alluded to it earlier. How would that work?

We know that this certain individual is receiving and reading a very, very corrosive message. How do we get the other message to him?

Mr. Rohozinski: This is a whole science in and of itself. I won't pretend I'm an expert in all of it. Certainly, from my exposure to how this is being done by our colleagues in the U.K., there are several approaches, one of which is using former radicals as a way of being able to approach those who are just entering into its path, literally acting more as a Sherpa and mentor and saying this is the future you face.

In some cases it is simply providing literally a counter-narrative, the facts that stand opposite to the facts that are being presented by radical views.

When you are alone in front of your computer and you can choose what you look at, you can literally learn only what you want. Sometimes having the ability to create those facts that in effect stack against the reality that you have been presented is sufficient. That's just scratching the surface. I would say there are people much more qualified than I in the area specifically of counter-narrative work that could speak to that.

Senator Mitchell: It does also emphasize the other side, and that is the need for people who are in contact with this individual who might potentially be radicalized — teachers, parents, community workers, police — to have a science of identification, or they need to have a methodology of identifying people becoming radicalized as well, because you can't imagine who might be, but you might be able to identify who is becoming.

Mr. Rohozinski: That is a very dangerous and tricky knife edge, because it shifts beyond simply identifying that there is something that requires a response to starting to identify and specifically target individuals. That's a slippery slope we get on, given what I said earlier, and that's that ability to create a very granular profile or pattern of life of an individual.

I would say that probably an adequate starting point at the moment is to make sure that we have the equivalent of Murphy the Molar who at least can work with our critical gatekeepers to know what kind of messages exist in the radical space, to be able to address them proactively through facts, engagement and debate.

Senator Stewart Olsen: My question has been answered, essentially. It was all on blocking. You were very fulsome in your addressing of that issue.


Senator Dagenais: I would like to come back to privacy protection. If I have understood correctly, you are working with the Privacy Commissioner to evaluate your work and the impact it may have. Without going into detail, has the commissioner made recommendations to you with respect to privacy protection?


Mr. Rohozinski: Our work with the Privacy Commissioner was interesting because, on the one hand, we definitely sought their guidance in order to understand whether or not what we were proposing was actually consistent with privacy legislation. But, at the same time, and especially at the workshop that we held at the culmination of our program, it became clear that there are certain concepts that exist in the marketing world and intelligence world that just don't exist at all within the world of privacy legislation.

One example is things like entity resolution, where literally I can take five or six points of information, none of which is inimical to the privacy of individuals, but taken together they create an accurate profile of an individual. It is a concept that we haven't dealt with yet in terms of how it actually works within the privacy realm where we were trying to identify specific objects of privacy of information.

It's a tough question. Certainly, we were very pleased that at our workshop the Privacy Commissioner sent not only someone from their technology shop, if you like, but also someone from their legal shop, so we had very fulsome participation from them. Again, I would commend the fact that the Kanishka program gave us the ability to bring together the Privacy Commissioner, security services and academics in one place to talk about issues that are tremendously difficult.

The Chair: I would like to follow up on a question asked by Senator Beyak in respect to the possibility of blocking various sites. Your response was that it becomes very complicated; there are so many players involved. In the long term, do you think that it would be advantageous, with your knowledge of technology, if the international community were to work towards an international agreement to block certain sites that would be described in order to be able to prevent some of this propaganda and pornography from being distributed? Is it feasible if we were to get a broad international agreement?

Mr. Rohozinski: Let me answer on two levels, and again drawing from experience outside of what I'm testifying about here. I have been involved in the last seven years with a track 1.5 process with both the Chinese and the Russians on the issue of cybersecurity.

One things that is very interesting, but sometimes it complicates discussions of cybersecurity, is that when we, meaning Canada, the United States and the U.K., say ''cybersecurity,'' we mean the security of technical networks. When the Russians say ''cybersecurity,'' they actually mean informatsionnaya bezopasnost — information security. So content becomes as much a component of what they consider to be cybersecurity as network security.

The challenge is that finding agreement on that means that we may well have to compromise and agree to block sites that are seen as political threats to regimes that are less democratic and in effect support effectively political censorship.

There's a great danger in seeking a global accommodation in the sense that we may become complicit to the diminishment of legitimate political rights abroad while doing very little to address the issue of security threats posed by these sites domestically.

The Chair: Colleagues, it's two o'clock. I'd like to thank our witness for appearing. You've brought a wealth of information. I don't know if everyone fully understood all of the information, but it's a start for all of us, I'm sure. I'd like to thank you for taking time to appear before us.

Joining us now to discuss the issue of threats to Canada is Tarek Fatah, Founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, which was formed in the wake of 9/11 as a response to give members of the Muslim Canadian community a voice, especially when it came to issues of human rights and secular values. The Muslim Canadian Congress has been prominent in speaking out against the mixing of politics and religion and on issues of gender and equality. Mr. Fatah writes a weekly column for the Toronto Sun and hosts a program on AM NEWSTALK 1010 in Toronto on Sunday afternoons with one of the widest listening audiences in the Greater Toronto Area. In 2008, Mr. Fatah published his first book, entitled Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State, which was runner up for the prestigious Donner Prize. This was followed by his book entitled The Jew is Not My Enemy in 2010 that won the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Award in Politics and History.

Mr. Fatah, welcome to the committee. We're pleased to have you here. I understand you have an opening statement. We invite you to begin.

Tarek Fatah, Founder, Muslim Canadian Congress: Good afternoon, senators, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for inviting me to address an issue that concerns not only Canada and the rest of the world but, above all, the community of my faith that seems to be lost in the sands of Sinai with no Moses to lead us out.

No matter how we couch our words in the language of political correctness or post-modernism, the fact of the matter is that Western civilization today faces a transcontinental challenge to its very existence.

It's not as if we haven't faced this challenge before. In the Second World War, we and our allies defeated the largest armies the world had ever seen and saved the world from Hitler and Nazis at a cost of over 30 million people. Subsequently, we won the Cold War, but today, 14 years after Islamism launched its war on the West, we cannot stall, let alone defeat, the forces of international jihad.

As a Muslim, it gives me no pleasure in washing my dirty laundry either in public or in these august chambers, but I believe if we Muslims do not step forward and speak the truth, we will suffocate in the stench of our own making while trying to blame others for creating the mess in which we find ourselves firmly stuck.

I understand the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence has a mandate to study and report on security threats facing Canada and is presently focusing on the issue of preventing radicalization. Allow me to answer some specific areas that may be of help to your committee and offer some recommendations at the end.

First is the problem in my community or in the Muslim community. The problem of radicalization in the Muslim community depends on which Muslim community you're talking about. If you are speaking about Muslim Kurds or Muslim Baloch or Muslim Darfuris, the problem is non-existent. The same can be said of most Iranian Muslims. However, within the White and Black converts to Islam, the Somali, Bangladeshi and Attar Muslim communities, and more specifically, the Pakistani-Canadian Muslim community, the problem of radicalization is very widespread, deeply entrenched, embedded and framed in terms of an Islam-versus-the-infidel scenario leading up to an end-of-time Armageddon.

Second is the support infrastructure for terrorism and radicalization. The support structure that exists for Islam-based terrorism or radicalization, all Islamism, which is a starting point to the end part of someone being a jihadist, is multi-faceted. At its base are the Islamist organizations and mosque-based groups who lay the seeds of radicalization not necessarily in the recruitment of terrorists but in the politicization of the sermons that whip up a sense of victimhood of Muslims while cultivating a hatred of non-Muslims and other groups such as gays and women who demand equality and who refuse to wear head wraps or be encased in burkas.

To give you a specific example, which most of you would not know about, most mosques in Canada and around the world start their Friday congregation with a prayer that asks Allah to give victory to the Muslims over the Kuffar, or the infidels — that is, people like you. The glorification and radicalization is endemic and ubiquitous in the sermons and teachings to very young adults, as can be verified from incidents in the United Kingdom and even here in Canada.

Every Islamic hero in the last 1,400 years has been a jihadist who is celebrated for his — there are no her — exploits in defeating Christians, Jews, Hindus or pagans.

It is with shock that I learned on Saturday that an RCMP de-radicalization partner, a White convert to Islam by the name of Muhammad Robert Heft, had a lengthy meeting with the Taliban leadership in the ISIS-backing Emirate of Qatar. Mr. Heft has been negotiating a pact with the Taliban, and I'm not sure if either your committee or the RCMP or CSIS knows about it, but he did come back yesterday and attended an event in Mississauga, where the keynote speaker was a federal minister, where he expounded his views. His view is that Canada's foreign policy is at the root cause of all jihadi terrorism. His absurd suggestion is to ally with the Taliban terrorists and to fight ISIS.

The question has been asked if the RCMP or CSIS have ever had any communications with that group. In my 25 years of fighting against Islamism and confronting jihadism within my Muslim community, as an author of two books, as a radio host and weekly columnist, let met state emphatically: Not a single time have I ever been approached by any outreach committee of the Toronto police, the RCMP, CSIS or any other security agency. They simply will not meet with any Muslim who looks like an integrated Muslim. I can draw only one conclusion, ladies and gentlemen: In the eyes of the RCMP, a Muslim is a Muslim only if he or she dresses up in medieval attire, encases his wife in a burka and speaks with a guttural accent.

The Muslins whom the Mounties certify as moderate Muslims, who we are told are fighting radicalization, are in fact Islamists who are pro-sharia and have never, ever once renounced the doctrine of armed jihad. These men and women are pulling the wool over the RCMP's eyes. As an example, one celebrity promoted by both CSIS and RCMP, through both Liberal and Conservative governments, is a Hamilton lawyer, a fine fellow by the name of Hussein Hamdani, who sits on Canada's Cross-Cultural Roundtable on Security. His presence on CCR has been used to push the Islamist agenda rather than thwart the Islamists.

Then there's the infamous Canadian counter-radicalization handbook United Against Terrorism, which was produced by two Muslim groups, ostensibly in collaboration with the RCMP until they backed out later. The Mounties distanced themselves from this Canadian handbook, but it is instructive in who these Islamist groups in this booklet recommended as the most reliable of North America's counter-radicalization religious advisers. They include Ingrid Mattson, a former president of ISNA, an organization that was an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Texas terror trial. Ms. Mattson, a White convert to Islam, once proudly represented the Afghan Mujahideen government at the UN. We have Jamal Badawi, who sat on the board of another organization listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Texas terror trial; Siraj Wahhaj, labelled as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 WTC bombings; and Zaid Shakir, who was outed for his radical ideology by a retired lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

The question is asked whether counter-radicalization programs work. Let me assure you there's no such thing as de-radicalization. It is one of the biggest money-making ventures that was ever introduced after 9/11. Experience in Saudi Arabia shows that every one of the radicals released under the guarantee of the Saudi government from GTMO turned back and are now fighting on the side of ISIS.

Let me give you an example of what Islamism is. Islamism is like an agricultural enterprise. Tilling the soil is different from planting and sowing the seed. Irrigating the soil is not the same as spreading pesticide to keep the parasites away. When it comes to harvesting the crop, the act is different than the sale of the crop. Dear senators, some Islamists plant the seed, while others harvest the crop of jihadists as recruiters. To suggest that those who plant the seed should eradicate the crop before the harvest is a fool's dream. The RCMP and other guilt-ridden, mainstream politicians may munch on this marijuana but, as a Muslim, I'm prohibited any intake of such intoxicants.

I have some specific recommendations to this committee, and I will list them for you.

Lay hate speech charges against any Muslim cleric who hides behind religious rights to attack and demonize members of another faith or another religion, as is done every Friday in every mosque of this country.

Every mosque must be monitored for such hate speech where the word Kuffar is invoked to hide the real target, which is Hindus, Christians and Jews.

Any mosque indulging in active politics must have their charitable status revoked. We have the law; we simply don't implement it.

Donations of more than $20 at all religious institutions must be made by cheque or credit card to cut off the possibility of money laundering, which I have witnessed.

Immigration from Pakistan, Somalia, Iran, Iraq and Syria must be suspended until Canada can be assured that the security documents, identity papers and university degrees cannot be bought in the black market or from state agencies. I am aware of how in Pakistan and Somalia, and in Iran, someone named, for example, Tarek Fatah could overnight become Abdul Khan or Behroze Hamadan, with documents and degrees to cheat the best of sleuths because the documents would be genuine, not forged.

Identify Muslim groups who are hostile to Islamists and enable them to fight Islamism in Canada, from the sowing of the seed to the harvesting of the crop. Here I mean Canadian Kurds, the Baloch, the African Darfuris and the victims of Iran's relentless atrocities on its citizens.

As one measure, Canada should re-examine the false designation of the PKK, the Kurdish Workers' Party, as a terrorist group, which we have done at the insistence of Turkey, which, by the way, is the main funder and supporter of ISIS, and PKK is the only group fighting ISIS. Had it not been for the PKK and its Syrian Kurdish counterpart, the YPG, a human slaughter of immense proportions would have taken place on the Sinjar Mountain, and Kobane would have fallen to ISIS.

It is unfathomable to me that we would be allies with Turkey and Qatar, who funded if not created ISIS, but that we treat PKK as terrorists, when that group has saved tens of thousands of lives and did not flee like the American-supplied Iraqi Army did. Senators, in the Second World War, we were allied with Stalin because we had to destroy Hitler. Today, the people who fight on our behalf have been designated as terrorists, and the people who wish to destroy us are members of NATO.

I will suggest my final recommendation, which might seem very trivial but is extremely significant in what message we send out. We should ban the burka in public, as the example set by the Republic of France and that has been upheld by the European Human Rights Commission and the court for two reasons. First, the robbery that took place of half a million of dollars of jewelry in Toronto last week could very well have been a terrorist attack by men wearing burkas, which has happened. Second, by saying that we as Canadians refuse and reject a value that suggests that women are the source of all sin and therefore should be restricted in the home, we will send a clear message that if you wish to wear a burka, you're free to wear it in your home, but on our streets, we would not want our children to be scared of people who wear clothes that literally frighten infants. Thank you very much.

Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you for your frankness in your discussions on this. I wanted to understand from you the support infrastructure that you believe is here within the country. I'm wondering if you could give me just briefly what is the support infrastructure here in groups.

Mr. Fatah: The way you look at it, senator, is not how the world works in the realm of Islamism. We don't need a structure. Many of the things that I have pointed out are generated in the minds of infants, of five-year-old boys who are dressed up as medieval invaders of Europe. My name Tarek is a name given to me because of the general who invaded Spain in the year 711. It doesn't need the infrastructure that you are looking for.

The ideology of Islamism has escaped attention from everyone, from President Bush right down to President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron. In the entire Western world, in the OECD countries, only one popular politician has had the courage to say in so many words that Islamism is a great threat, and that is our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. No one else has had the guts, the ability to say that we are fighting an enemy that is structured around a death cult of a fascist ideology, one that considers Earth to be a transit lounge to the final destination where life will begin after death in paradise. To most people in the West, it seems like a joke; to every Muslim, it is a fact of life.

Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you. I would just like you to repeat a part of your message, which is that it's not all Muslims. I think that's very important to understand in today's world.

Mr. Fatah: Let me clarify. I have repeated that for 14 years. Not just me, you and every Western politician has been, in cricketing terms, batting on the back foot. We have seen the results. We have dead Canadians on our hands, and we have the Toronto 18, the Digi-bomber, the VIA Rail bombers, and we all come back to the defensive notion: Of course not all Germans were Nazis. But did we sit around the conference room during the Second World War saying, ''Oh, what happens if a German got upset?''

I suggest that 14 years is long enough for not a single mosque imam to say, ''I renounce the doctrine of jihad.'' What would it take for someone to say, in this day and age, the doctrine of armed jihad is inapplicable, inadmissible and we live as nation states? We do not have communities based on inherited race or religion. Our citizenship is based on human-created laws that can be changed by subsequent generations, not divine text sent by messengers that are immutable for all times.

Senator White: Thank you very much for being here today, sir, and for your comments. We had witnesses before us last week from the RCMP who talked about their community outreach program, in particular with young people, and their attempt of using some crime prevention methods that we've seen successful in Canada, particularly among gangs, to assist young people in finding a different path out. So your suggestion is you have had no involvement with them as to whether or not their program would help. I think you have obviously heard of the program, though.

Can you give your opinion, if that doesn't work or if it won't work, what will work when it comes to young people and trying to keep them from becoming engaged in some of the hatred and anger you're talking about?

Mr. Fatah: Senator, they're laughing at the RCMP behind your backs, these young men. These are highly staged events. These are money-making events. The de-radicalization program is a joint venture between companies, consultants and academics with a vested interest in this.

You cannot produce one de-radicalized person in the last 14 years. Each person who is marketing himself as a former radical is doing so for financial purposes. You show me one person who says that he has been de-radicalized, one former radical from GTMO who says that jihad is inapplicable. Out of 1,000 Islamists there will be one jihadist. What we're saying is, ''How do we fight Islamism?'' Is it like a vaccine, the same way we fight chicken pox, by introducing the same germ so they can destroy the other germ? No. This is cancer. You're introducing tumours where tumours already exist. This is becoming a profit-making venture.

For me and many secular liberal colleagues, we know this is a war declared on us. Unfortunately, for many other civil servants and folks, this is a money-making venture. You form a committee; you bring a proposal; you get funded. Millions have been spent, and we cannot defeat men in caves? Trillions. Imagine the amount, the hundreds of billions the Americans spent in Iraq and the army ran away, yet not a single American general has been held accountable? It's because it was a total fraud. Nobody dares say that billions were stolen in this enterprise.

The Brits and the Canadians have had a very good record in having armed forces that fight with dignity. The private guards and private mercenaries — even Snowden is not a CIA employee. Since when did we fight our enemy by contracting out to private forces? Even the people who vetted Snowden were a private company. You cannot win a war against people who are dedicated to die for no money whatsoever and face them with people who go on tours of duty, a term unheard of in the First and Second World Wars. Don't recruit an army saying, ''Get a degree in engineering or an American citizenship by serving a term in Iran.'' Those people don't fight wars. They want to come back and run a company.

So what's happening with us, and this is a rare opportunity for me because nobody wishes to speak to the ordinary Muslim. Ninety per cent of us don't go to a mosque, senator. Ninety per cent of us have no affiliation with any mosque. We are architects, we are cab drivers, we may even be pole dancers, but none of us dresses up in that medieval costume that the RCMP and CSIS have, in a racist way, imposed on us as an identity. Do you think after 25 years I need to dress like a Saudi to be believed by you that I'm an authentic Muslim? This is blackface in my face. I am not a joker. I'm a Muslim Canadian. I came here to escape those tyrants, and the RCMP and CSIS are feeding them.

I've been to the CCR meetings and I've met a member as senior as an assistant minister who is a Muslim briefing us at the Friday prayers on what story to give to the RCMP officers, a con job that, if I was anyone in the government, I would charge that man for being a traitor to this country, to the place that gave our parents and us a place to be free. I can't speak in Canada, and you're bringing the people who wanted to kill me and make them RCMP advisers? We would have lost the Second World War if we had the same leadership in Canada and Britain as we have today in our intelligentsia.

Senator White: If I may, obviously you don't think the program works. That's pretty clear. I'm asking you the question: What will work? We have people in this country who are, if not before, then now, finding themselves in a position of supporting something that involves killing Canadians.

Mr. Fatah: First thing is suspend immigration from Iran, Pakistan and Somalia. I can take you to Mississauga Road and the million-dollar mansions of Pakistani generals of the ISI — it is not ISIS, by the way — who live here amongst us.

You want to know the foreign students over here, the MSA, the Muslim Students Association, designated by the Muslim Brotherhood as their front, is hosting an event in Windsor on November 26 where an RCMP superintendent is sitting down with two Islamists. Would that RCMP come to an event that we would do? Impossible. There's nothing to offer. I have no exotic meals to offer during Ramadan to these hundreds of RCMP and CSIS and Toronto police officers who every Ramadan have a feast day. It's multiculturalism gone mad, senators, and our country is being hurt and nobody is watching. The Mounties don't get their man, I can assure you, not today.

Senator Beyak: Thank you very much, Mr. Fatah, for an excellent presentation. I think all my questions have actually been answered because you have given your views on radicalization.

For community members who speak out, like you, are you threatened, alienated or targeted by radicals in any way? Do you feel you are in any danger for speaking out like this? How do you encourage others who are truly moderate to speak as well?

Mr. Fatah: You will be surprised. I heard the gentleman before me talk about Internet security. I am the person banned on Facebook. Seriously. I am a danger to Facebook.

On a social network that hosts ISIS, prostitution gangs and drug gangs, it is me, as a Sun columnist, whose profile is banned. When I get a death threat, the police investigate me in Toronto. Who comes to investigate me? The head of Toronto police intelligence is one of my co-religionists.

I don't like to wash my dirty linen in public, senator, but I have had it. It has been 14 years, and Canada and the United States couldn't defeat a bunch of ragtag, medieval monsters.

I wish Justin Trudeau were here so I could ask him, ''Do you think I deserve to get jihadis?'' Would he go to a mosque where women are sent to the back of the bus?

Senators, you cannot fight radicalization if you believe that women deserve to sit in the back of the bus. Every mosque I know except for two send their women to the basements, behind balconies or in the last row. The RCMP, the Liberals, Conservative and New Democrat politicians go there, look at that, and never once did they say, ''I'd like to see a sister in the front row.'' They dare not because they would be accused of being racist.


Senator Dagenais: I have listened to you carefully. One of the things you spoke about was the RCMP. The RCMP exists in Canada; it will be there tomorrow and in the future. What do you think would be the best awareness strategy for the RCMP to maintain or create contact with the Muslim community? In your opinion, what should the terrorism prevention community awareness program look like? It is easy to say that the RCMP does not do this or that. Nonetheless, it will still be there tomorrow.


Mr. Fatah: Senator, I understand the paradigm which says they have to do outreach. I can't understand why it is the RCMP's job to do outreach. It is the politician's job to do outreach to the community and engage. The RCMP's job is not to cater to the whims and fancies of people. They are there to solve criminal activity.

Some of us listen to your hearings live, and I heard either CSIS or the RCMP say they do not investigate mosques. Nobody asked why. If the RCMP is in agreement with the mosques that they will give 24-hour notice before they enter, is this a victory for the RCMP or for those who think that the Friday prayers should start with a prayer asking for the defeat of infidels and the victory of Muslims?

We cannot expect our security agencies to do community outreach. They're neither trained nor responsible for that. Their job is crime prevention. This is not criminal activity. This is war. This is terror. If we can't call it war and terror and refer to it as criminal activity, we have already lost the war. Hitler didn't commit a crime when he invaded Poland. He committed a crime when he killed the Jews. When he invaded Poland, Austria, Denmark and France, he committed war.

We are living in a different age when states are not attacking us but non-state actors want to kill us, and they're recruiting from within us. These are not deprived, uneducated kids, but two Quebecois, sons of the soil, came from us and killed our own soldiers. Nobody has asked who converted them to Islam. Not a single person has asked these questions: What was that contact point? Who was the individual?

Not journalists, not politicians, no Liberal, no Conservative, no New Democrat, nobody dared ask this question because that would be racist, wouldn't it? If I had to solve a crime, my first point is who recruited you to the mafia? If it was criminal, wouldn't that be the first question?

This guy killed his own countrymen, and we don't want to know who made him do that?

The Chair: I'd like to follow up on Senator Dagenais' question. As you know, with our hearings we are doing our best to have a public conversation with respect to identifying the problem and being able to assess what supports the ideology that obviously accompanies this type of activity. What can prevent it?

The question put by Senator Dagenais to you is how can governments, the federal and maybe the provincial government, help and assist within those communities, in this case the Muslim community that you referred to, the vast majority, to be able to counteract this type of extremist ideology that is being perpetuated.

You have just said that the RCMP is in a situation where some might say they obviously are working with the individuals involved within the community and can identify the community. At the end of the day, they are responsible for enforcing the laws.

The question then has to be, within that community, if it's not the RCMP or other government agencies, who within that organization or within that community would be best suited to be able to work within the community to move it ahead? You're not going to change this overnight.

Mr. Fatah: Sure.

The Chair: If you could answer that in a manner that tells us, on the record, what could be done.

Mr. Fatah: Absolutely. CSIS and the new legislative powers that the government is introducing will be very helpful in that matter.

Let me give you the example of the Toronto 18. They were busted by good intelligence work.

The Chair: That's right.

Mr. Fatah: Right? Nobody is out doing community outreach or playing basketball. There was a spy, $300,000 was spent — well invested — he brought the code and the convictions, but tell me who let the convicted guy out of this country to go and die in Syria?

I'm not a senator or an MP. I'm just saying we have evidence of what works and what doesn't. We know there are people being injured in Syria who come back for health treatment and then go back. We have people who support the Haider family who work with the RCMP. The RCMP says these are our good guys. That's a self-confessed murderer, a terrorist.

We need to have our ideas clearer. So the Toronto 18 mechanism works. CSIS should be empowered. Their job is to develop intelligence, and not by working with a community group but working within it.

Senator Dagenais: With your permission, I have a clarification.


Mr. Fatah, we are going to talk about community leaders. How could they work with Canada to prevent radicalization? Let us not think about the RCMP, but about community leaders. Then, I would ask whether we can establish a relationship of trust between the government, the local communities and the RCMP.

I would like to know how the community leaders could prevent radicalization.


Mr. Fatah: That is an excellent question, senator. Community leaders are leaders of cultural communities, not religious clerics who are paid to show us the moral compass of how to live as good human beings. If you go to any Muslim event, it will look different than what your mosque looks like. Go to any wedding with me, and I will tell you that you won't see the hijabs and burkas you see at the mosques. The way to reach the community leaders is to reach with the cultural communities that sing and dance the way Canadians do. Nobody reaches out to the Nile Foundation, which is an Egyptian group. Nobody has ever reached out to some symphony in Montreal.

I can give you a number of cultural groups that meet every year and have fun — dinners, games, children playing. We have focused on Muslims as if the only thing a Muslim does is preach and pray. That's not what we are. We are just like you. We don't like going to the mosque. We go there and we have to sit. We are old; we can't sit on the floor, many of us. We are 65 now. The guy is always boring. He has the microphone. He is like the 12th century Catholic priest speaking in Latin, which I can't understand. Eighty per cent of Canada's Muslims don't understand Arabic, and 100 per cent of the sermons are in Arabic. For goodness' sake, that's not where our community leaders are.

I'm not a community leader. I'm just a journalist. Senator Ataullahjan is a community leader. She's a senator. She should be the community leader. The RCMP should work with her. There was another Muslim senator. There are members of Parliament. They're community leaders. They get elected, MPs, whether they're New Democrats, Liberal or Conservative. They are the leaders.

If the imams have to become leaders, let them fight elections and get into Parliament. Parliamentarians are the leaders. We elect you. We respect you, whether we oppose you or not. But don't tell me that I need a 12th century monk from the Sinai to tell me what to do with landing on the comet. This doesn't work. So stop meeting with people of the 12th century; start meeting with people of the 21st century.


Senator Dagenais: If it is any consolation, over the course of three months, I attended Maghrebian, Lebanese and Armenian evenings, and I can tell you that I had a lot of fun with the people of the different communities.


Mr. Fatah: Precisely.


Senator Dagenais: We danced, and we ate well.


Senator Stewart Olsen: I wonder if in the Muslim community, when there are people who do speak out, is there support for them within the Muslim community? Are there support structures that they would dare to come and say so-and-so — I wonder about the responsibility being taken by the community itself, and do they need assistance?

Mr. Fatah: There are huge numbers of Muslims who, within their homes, are desperate to get rid of the image that we have. My daughter works for the CBC. None of my nieces — well, I shouldn't be saying that. This will be recorded. But people want to become Canadians. Don't force us to become something else. Everyone who wants to integrate faces an obstacle. Everyone who wants to go away is funded. Not a dollar spent by the entire Canadian government is there to support those Muslims who oppose ISIS — not one.

In 2005, you may be aware of the sharia debate in Quebec and Ontario, the death threats that the Quebec assembly member Fatima Houda-Pepin faced. What we endured in that debate, thank God the Ontario government had the wisdom and the National Assembly of Quebec had a unanimous resolution to reject sharia. Britain is paying the price for not having Muslims to come out. It wasn't easy for us.

What are the two things that happen when a Muslim stands up against the mullahs? He doesn't get a plot to bury himself or his parents in the graveyard. He's never invited to a wedding or birthday party, which, in a marginalized community, is social ostracization, which destroys the very soul of the first-generation immigrant because he's not entertained by anyone. The social pressures are such that they affect you back home. The very people involved in this moral crime of forcing people not to be Canadian are rewarded by politicians, police and the intelligentsia.

It is a sad story, which perhaps my daughter will someday write about: the decades lost, when people came to this country to offer, and because they wanted to be Tommy Douglas, they wanted to be the Diefenbakers, they even wanted to be supporters of the PQ, they were told, ''No, you need to go eat a samosa somewhere and dress up in a bizarre way. The RCMP will come and entertain you.''

I don't want this outreach. Please stay away. Keep away from us. When somebody issues a death threat and the police come to my house to investigate me for making a false claim, what does it tell my children? They sent Muslim police officers to my home. Senators, it is a comedy of errors what is happening, but very few will tell you this because nobody wants to wash the dirty linen in public.

Senator Mitchell: Mr. Fatah, my experience with the Muslim community is so fundamentally different than yours. I know so many wonderful, remarkable, amazing, beautiful people. Don't say anything till I'm finished, please.

Mr. Fatah: I'm sorry?

Senator Mitchell: Don't interrupt me.

Mr. Fatah: Did I?

Senator Mitchell: Just about. I find that the implication that every single imam in this country is inciting people to violence, which is in a sense what you said —

Mr. Fatah: No.

Senator Mitchell: — because the first prayer —

Mr. Fatah: No. Don't put words in my mouth, senator, please.

Senator Mitchell: My first question is have you been to every mosque in the country? You say preaching on Friday starts with a prayer that talks about a battle with non-Muslim people?

Mr. Fatah: Senator, I resent the fact that you are teaching me my religion, number one. You will have to live 65 years of my life — 10 years in Saudi Arabia and 30 years in Pakistan and 25 years here — to dare to tell me what is Islam.

Number two, I did not say they incite violence. Those are words that you are putting in my mouth. You should not do that. You are a senator. You should be the role model not to change my words.

Number three, I suggested that every Friday prayer is preceded by a prayer asking for the defeat of the infidel at the hands of the Muslims, and I stand by it, sir. That prayer has been going on for 1,400 years.

I didn't say that you did not meet Muslims or that Muslims were not fantastic. I am a Muslim and I am fantastic, and I am the role model for Muslims in this country. The people that you buy, as a Liberal senator, in creating multiculturalism and sidetracking us away from the challenges that we face, I resent the fact that you implicated me as an Islamophobe, and that is exactly what politicians like you do to silence us.

The Chair: Colleagues, we're getting to the end of our time. I want to thank Mr. Fatah for coming before us and taking the time and the effort to be before us and put his opinion forward.

Colleagues, with us in this final panel of the day is Mr. Syed Raza, a founder and director of Muslims Facing Tomorrow.

According to your website, Mr. Raza, Muslims Facing Tomorrow is an organization whose mission is to:

. . . reclaim Islam for, as the word itself means, securing Peace for all people, and to oppose extremism, fanaticism and violence in the name of religion . . .

In order to succeed we are dedicated to nurturing harmonious coexistence among people of all faith traditions, to supporting open and free intellectual discourse about our history beset with problems that need to be publicly discussed, and to celebrating as Canadians our cultural diversity in all of its aspects.

Mr. Raza and his wife Ms. Raheel Raza, who could not be with us today because of travel commitments, have been active members of the Muslim community in Toronto. They have been educators, mentors and leaders in their community at a very challenging time.

Mr. Raza, I understand you have an opening statement. Please begin.

Syed Sohail Raza, Director, Muslims Facing Tomorrow: Thank you for the introduction. May I begin by thanking you for the privilege of appearing before this committee.

I am a director with Muslims Facing Tomorrow, a grassroots Muslim organization with a focus on separating mosque and state and assisting our youth in engaging and embracing Canadian values while still practising their faith. We have partnered in a documentary called Honor Diaries, which discusses challenges faced by women in Muslim majority areas.

We have successfully carried out a pilot project in Bangladesh in declaring a village radical-free in 2013. In a period of one year, we now have 12 villages that call themselves ''radical-free,'' and there are signs outside the villages saying the same. There's a documentary under way that explains how and why we did it.

Now, I must let you know that this was done without any involvement of law enforcement agencies. It was done by empowering the moderates, by giving them enough literature, audio and visual, so they could explain to the masses why it is necessary to lead a peaceful coexistence.

However, our interest today is to stop radicalization in Canada. In order to do that, we must follow the three E's: expose, educate and eradicate. Expose the elements, individuals and organizations involved in radicalizing our youth; educate with or without the help of law enforcement agencies but in partnership with the government. It is imperative to educate our youth without falling into the victimhood narrative. Eradicate. This can happen only when the Muslim community gets out of the denial mode and law enforcement agencies are serious about eradicating this menace.

I would like to give you the example that has been given before of a cleric, Robert Heft, who just came back from Qatar after meeting five Taliban leaders who were let out from GTMO. We have an organization by the name of NCCM, the National Council of Canadian Muslims, that sued the Prime Minister during his trip to Israel and that now has this publication about radicalization.

That publication doesn't tell us anything. It amounts to a big zero. Let me warn you, they are the sister concern — in fact, they were known as CARE Canada before, of CARE U.S.A., which last week was declared a terrorist organization by none other than the United Arab Emirates. It is coming from their own sources that they're not welcome, and what they're doing is completely and utterly against Canadian values, and, in that case American values.

We have, on page 13 in the same booklet, recommended Islamic scholars, and the front and centre is Ingrid Mattson. We have heard about her before.

We must realize that we have a problem.

They also allude to MAC. MAC is the Muslim Association of Canada, which toes the line and the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood.

This is an uphill task, but we will get there with your recommendations and help. Here are some of our suggestions and wish list: One, charges must be laid if Canadians are going to fight for ISIS or any other enemy of Canada and then they return back to their country. Charges must be laid.

Two, a more vigilant focus on overseas financing, whether to mosques or Islamic organizations.

Three, shutting down any religious place of worship which perpetuates hate.

Four, law enforcement agencies have to consult with secular or moderate Muslims.

Five, political Islam or Islamism needs to be explained to Canadians and studied in detail by politicians, law enforcement agencies and educational institutions. Again, avoiding the victimhood narrative and emphasizing unreasonable accommodation.

In the end, on behalf of all moderate Muslims, I would like to invite this committee to Toronto, the hub of activity of Muslims, to take a first-hand look at the situation there, which will give you an idea what we are faced against and what challenges there are, whether religious organizations, Islamic organizations, mosques or secular Muslims going about their nine-to-five jobs.

Thank you once again for this opportunity.

Senator Mitchell: Thank you, Mr. Raza. I appreciate it. You hit on something that directly contradicts the testimony that we just heard before you, and that was the success of this de-radicalization program that you are talking about that was done in Bangladesh.

This is a two-part question. Am I wrong to assume that you believe that de-radicalization can work, and can you tell us how?

Mr. Raza: We can avoid radicalization. A person who is radicalized is not in our means to bring back. He belongs in a psychiatric ward, and the only people who can deal with him wear white coats. But we can stop further youth from being radicalized by empowering the moderates, so that we can, in turn, give information in schools and pressure especially Islamic schools to teach secular education as well as Islamic education.

Senator Mitchell: How would we empower you to do that? What's to stop you from being on the school board of a private school or go to the school? I don't mean that to sound aggressive. I'm very interested in what you are saying. How do we empower you to do that? You are obviously articulate, smart, well-connected in your community. What help do you need just to go to a private school and say, ''What are you teaching and why are you teaching it?''

Mr. Raza: I'll give you an example. Ms. Raza, our president, did a project for TDSB on behalf of Canada immigration offices, and this had nothing to do with religion or with Islam. It was to do with encouraging students to take part in a competition and a debate and a video filming.

The Chair: What is TDSB?

Mr. Raza: The Toronto District School Board. She had to go to schools which were far away. On her visit, as soon as the teachers found out that she was Muslim, they were not interested in the project that she was doing, but said, ''Can you please help us? We have Muslim students and we have problems.''

Now, the Toronto District School Board, I hope there are changes made on your recommendation. They have instituted Friday prayers in school whereby the girls have to be at the back, and the girls who are in that time of the month are totally disgraced, because they are not allowed to enter that room.

It falls under the jurisdiction of human rights. It is really very sad what we are seeing.

My point was that this subject to the teachers, how to deal with Muslim students, was more important than dealing with the project that she was doing. That is a problem; when you come to Toronto I will show you areas where the teachers have absolutely no effect because the male students want to dominate. They have been doing it in their families. These are families where the husband has left them and gone to the Middle East to earn more money and then the boy takes over. It is a patriarchal agenda that is being set forth. It doesn't fit well with Canadian values.

Yes, we can go and do it, but then we come to this obstacle. We tried to explain to the school board why it's a negative deterrent. Why should Friday prayers be there as the only prayer? Why should the Muslim prayer be the only prayer that the TDSB accepts?

We had a big argument about stopping the Lord's Prayer in schools. The whole thing contradicts for political correctness or for whatever reason; it doesn't sit well. For us to go and to arm moderate youths just won't happen unless there is legislation or — I wouldn't say law enforcement, but any support that we have.

Senator Mitchell: Are you saying that in public schools, not just in a special or a private or a charter Muslim school, there are organized prayers? Could you give us an example, the name of a school, and we'll phone?

Mr. Raza: On Fridays?

Senator Mitchell: Yes.

Mr. Raza: This is in Thorncliffe Park. It's the only school there, in Toronto.

Senator Mitchell: We need to check that.

Mr. Raza: By all means. Those are our challenges.

Senator Stewart Olsen: We are all learning a lot, actually, but I want to go back into how you feel more support could be offered to moderate Muslims. Are you suggesting that radical Muslims get more support? I'm not sure exactly what you're saying, but I would like to know how you feel moderate Muslims could be supported.

Mr. Raza: First, you have to determine who is a moderate Muslim and who is an extremist. That gets very complicated, and that's a debate all in itself.

What the track record shows is that Canada is a secular country. We need to determine which group, which faction, which entity, which organization, is talking about secularism. You are most welcome to practise your religion, whatever religion you may follow, and then there's the point of reasonable and unreasonable accommodation that we have just gone through. I as a Muslim sometimes feel awkward going to a university because there's so much religion that has been pushed in terms of giving them unfair accommodation.

First, we have to determine that, but that should be determined on merit, whoever is talking about modernity, secularism, separating church and state, while still standing and firmly and accepting your religion for what it is. Those are the people that people should be reaching out to, not the people who are just curtailed in a mosque. The mosque may not be the wrong idea, but it is definitely the wrong people to talk to.

Senator Stewart Olsen: You are suggesting we should be reaching out. How would we know who they are? In Canada, we strongly support freedom of religion, so that any attempts to thwart a religious institution or anything are frowned upon.

I'm not sure, when we get into this, we bring religion into this debate, that it is productive, because I don't know what the role of government would be in that whole debate. I like the argument that radicalization is radicalization, not taking a particular religion or a sect or anything, because it happens everywhere. What we're trying to figure out is how you deal with it.

If you have any ideas on that, I would really love to hear them. What did you do in the village?

Mr. Raza: In the village, we provided them with enough literature, both audio and visual. We changed the curriculum of the school from totally religious to a secular cum religious, so this way they felt empowered that they're doing it themselves. There's no one person telling them what to do.

Second, I fully agree with you. We have freedom of religion. That's what we want; we want freedom of religion to practise our faith. We don't want then our faith to come into our public life either. I don't want the imam telling me what I should be doing at work or here.

We want to keep it separate. That's fine. I'm all for it. But then we must have some cautionary measures. Who are the people that are leading us? I don't want to go to a mosque where the imam has just returned from meeting the Taliban whom we have had a war with. I don't want that imam. I don't want an imam who teaches that it's okay for nine-year-old girls to get married to 16-year-old boys. We've had that in Toronto in the Jaffari mosque. I don't want an imam to tell me that my wife is secondary to me. Before that my wife would do away with me anyway, but that's a different story.

We have to make them accountable as well. Freedom of religion doesn't mean that it is freedom of hate, that it is a hate fest. Freedom of religion means that we have to balance the two.

Senator Stewart Olsen: My point to you is, while I'm really grateful for hearing this from you, we're not looking at one particular religion or nationality or anything as being terrorists or radicals. We are looking at the whole spectrum of radicalization and what happens to mainly our youth, and how we can combat that and prevent that from happening.

I want to make that point because I know you can't solve everything, but you have given us some good starting points. I thank you.

Mr. Raza: Yes. There is also women's education and women's liberation in the sense that they are an entity. In some households, women are not encouraged to educate themselves. Once we get started, then we can bring up all these things, which are not against any faith, but the documentary we produced, Honor Diaries, is exactly that. We have problems in areas which fall into the Muslim majority area of the world. Those areas can come to Canada and haunt us or to the United States or to Europe. This is educational for people, and we have had an excellent response to that.

Senator Stewart Olsen: Thank you.


Senator Dagenais: As an aside, religions are authoritarian, even in Quebec where, 50 years ago, when you got married, you were required to have children; if you did not have any, it was a sin and you could not be absolved. Thank God we got through that, I am pleased to say.

I want to come back to community awareness and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We thought that maintaining effective and ongoing communication with the Muslim communities through regular contact would make things easier. How do you think the RCMP awareness strategy could maintain contact with the Muslim communities? Do you believe in it and, if so, what might these awareness programs for preventing terrorist acts, for example, look like?


Mr. Raza: First of all, yes, I know about other religions that have struggled through the same process that Islam is struggling through, and we are just maybe a hundred years behind, but we will catch up.

As far as the outreach is concerned, I or my organization has had no contact with any law enforcement agency as far as an outreach program is concerned.

My wife went to two programs immediately after the VIA Rail bombers were stopped, but it had nothing to do with outreach. It was a reaction for the Muslim community on that event.

But nobody has contacted us yet. If our organization is contacted we can come up with material and suggestions that the RCMP may or may not take, or any other law enforcement organization, or other organization, but unless they do contact us and are on the same wavelength with us, we have nothing to offer.


Senator Dagenais: I asked our previous witness this question: in your opinion, what role could the community leaders play in the context of efforts to prevent radicalization? Is there a role to play and, if so, how do you see it?


Mr. Raza: Absolutely, community leaders have a great role to play, but it is imperative that we as a larger community determine who the community leaders are. At the moment, the community leaders that are part of these outreach programs are rejected by a lot of Muslims, not only my organization, but a lot of Muslims. I would say if a Muslim is not a mosque-going Muslim, which is the majority in Canada, then who do they turn to as a leader? He doesn't go to the imam for any solution.

That's our problem. We have to find viable community leaders that can stand up. But in the absence of that, we have to deal with the community leaders that we have at the moment, and they are politicians, secular community leaders who have had various commercial or inter-trade organizations. They are community leaders, and they can build up the community because they know where the pulse of the money is. They know how to guide the youth in careers and other fields, so we can build them up.

We have never been approached with that idea before. I'm really grateful that this committee is listening to us. It is somehow assumed that so-and-so is a community leader because he represents the people who go to that Islamic organization or that mosque and that he's influential in all of that, which is not the case.

Maybe we need to work harder in making prominent community leaders. That could be our part of the homework.

The Chair: I think it is very worthwhile having this public conversation. It would seem to me that you have a position in the community; you obviously care and are obviously spending a lot of time and your own money. You are putting yourself out in front of an issue that sometimes can be difficult, and there are others in your community that you would know of who would be in a similar situation. In view of the fact you have not been approached as of today, would it not be in your interest, in view of the public conversation we're having now, that a group of people like you approach the authorities and say, ''We're here and we're available to help,'' and stand up for the values that you talked about earlier so that they know you are there?

Mr. Raza: Yes.

The Chair: That's my first question. The second is I know that the RCMP and all our law enforcement agencies have good intentions in trying to do everything they can to prevent something from happening that would be tragic for Canada in some respects, but at the same time to try to redirect some of these individuals who are perhaps going to the point where they're radicalized.

From your working knowledge, do you think that the task that the RCMP and other authorities and provincial departments have taken on is the right thing to be doing, or is there another way to be doing this?

Mr. Raza: The answer to the first question is yes, we have made contact with them after every time there's been an incident. We have tried to approach the RCMP. The community liaison officer is the one we have to approach, but it has never materialized into anything, not even a return phone call.

The second part of the question was in view of the above, how are we to deal with this. We are making efforts. We are doing this, and I think what is happening today is more important than what has happened in the past. Somebody is listening to us. Somebody is concerned. We have not had that breakthrough before. We haven't had anybody with a keen sense of concern call us and say, ''Let's talk about this problem. How can we resolve it?''

As a Muslim, I'm more concerned about resolving this than any of us in this room, but we have to partner with somebody. We're trying on our own. It doesn't seem to be working. As I said before, we have to have a partnership with somebody or some backup that we can refer to for action to be taken.

Senator Beyak: Thank you very much for an excellent presentation. Our previous witness described our Prime Minister as courageous for having the courage to call the problem what it is. We hear so many different definitions. We hear extreme violence, radical extremism, jihadist. How would you call it, as a moderate secular Muslim? How should we describe the problem that's facing us so that we find a solution?

Mr. Raza: I agree that Prime Minister Harper was the only leader in the Western world that came out and said that we have a problem with Islamism. I think Islamism is deeply misunderstood in a lot of places. First we have to define what Islamism is. Islamism is using a religion to further political goals. In short, that's the definition of Islamism.

Where is it coming from? It's coming from three areas. It coming from Iran with the Khomeinis; it's coming from Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood; and it's coming from Saudi Arabia with the Wahhabi jihadi mentality. These are global.

How is it creeping into Canada? Ten years ago, The Washington Post had an article that said 80 per cent of North America's mosques are, in some form or another, getting money from the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia and 20 per cent of the mosques belong to people who are in minority fringe Muslim groups, like the Ahmadiyya, the Ismaili community and the Bohra community. They're not mainstream Muslims. On top of that, the shia mosques are all financed by Iran or have links to finances from Iran. This is the global structure of Islamism as we see it today.

How do we fight it? We have to work together to defeat it. All mosques are not all bad. Agreed. All imams are not bad. Agreed. But I also want everyone in this room to agree that we do have a very serious problem. If we let this problem grow, we become another London where there are sharia zones where you cannot go. Where you could not go, madam. If I'm gay, I cannot go. If I don't have a beard that conforms to the Islamic tradition, I cannot go. Do we want this in Canada? No, I don't think anybody does.

This is a good starting point. We have to take this, and we have to make something happen from it.

Senator Mitchell: Mr. Raza, I'm going to challenge you a little bit, not because I necessarily disagree with you. I think you've been very reasonable and sincere and heartfelt, actually, and I want to pursue your thinking.

My first question is, what's the magnitude of it? Thousands of people go to mosques in Canada. Thousands of young people go to mosques in Canada. They played with my kids when my kids were of that age. They are friends of my kids. They work with us. They live like us, thousands upon thousands. Then, on the other side, we see the two people who killed soldiers, abhorrently, in the last month or so, and we see the 18, and we've got some numbers that may be 90, maybe be 170, maybe 370, that are somehow radicalized and in other parts of the world. How big of a problem is this? You seem to be implying that it's huge.

Mr. Raza: Senator, for me, two soldiers killed are too many. It is a big problem. There are 1.7 billion Muslims. How many are radicalized? Is it 10 per cent, 15 per cent? That's the figure that's been quoted.

Senator Mitchell: What about here in Canada?

Mr. Raza: So you can figure out the dimension of it.

Here in Canada? I mentioned what The Washington Post article said. They are financed by them. The magnitude of the problem is only felt when an incident happens. Why should we let that happen? The magnitude of the problem happens only when somebody speaks out. The magnitude of the problem is there. Maybe it's dormant, but it's there. It exists.

I don't mean that we should start raiding mosques and raiding institutions and hauling people off, but we have to be concerned. Even if it's a thousand people, that's a lot. One boy could have a great effect on my child. One teacher can put my child on the wrong track forever. We as a community have to be alert as well, but we need help. Yes, it is a problem. It does exist. The figures are there, but we only realize it, God forbid, when something happens.

Look at England. England has been avoiding this showdown for years and decades and decades until they came to realize that, ''Let's do away with the jihadis and put Muslim Brotherhood in; at least they don't cut people's throats off.'' Is that a solution? That situation kept getting worse. We have to avoid these three blocks of people. We have to start now so that people know that if something negative is to take place, there's going to be consequences. Right now, I don't think that message is clear. It's for a crime family. It's for a drug dealer. It's for anybody that wants to harm Canada. We should not let it happen.

Senator Mitchell: Absolutely. The question of religious freedom is really a powerful element in Canada. I'm not arguing with you particularly, but Britain has dealt with its minorities very differently than we have, and multiculturalism is one of the reasons why we don't have the kind of ghettoization that has occurred, ironically, in the British case. You can make that argument, and many do. Our multiculturalism and the recognition of cultures is really what makes people feel less alienated and not more alienated in Canada. That's one of our tremendous strengths.

The question of religious freedom is really a difficult one. I'm very interested in the equality of women. That's an issue that drives me all the time. I find difficulty with my own religion. Many religions don't allow women to be priests, if you can imagine, in the 21st century. You talked about balance. How do you balance that? Is it just that we keep debating the importance of women being equal and we elevate them in our secular institutions? One day, does religion change? What would you say? Do you go to a religion and say, ''You can't treat women that way and you can't separate them in your place of worship?''

Mr. Raza: What I would say is, ''Let's talk about it.'' Why am I excluded from my faith if I want to talk about certain things? Even leaving my faith, I should have the freedom to leave my faith if I want to. Why should I then be killed?

We need to debate and discuss. That is the missing link — you nailed it — that is missing from the Islamic diaspora, which is the ability to debate and discuss. A line was drawn in the sand in the 14th century that said there will be no discussion on religion. Still today we are scared of crossing that line and saying, ''I want to discuss how I should treat my woman. What is the problem with having a drink? What is the problem with being friends with gays and lesbians? They are equal human beings. What is Islam's role in humanity, let alone faith?''

Absolutely, that is a great thing. I and my organization would want to light a fire under the feet of the clerics because, after all, I can't change religion. It's not my place or in my power, but the clerics can. We have to bring them to the table and discuss why it is like this, and only then will we develop. As I said, we are about a hundred years behind and we are trying to play catch-up.

The Chair: I'd like to, if I could, go back to education. We touched on it a little bit earlier in respect to public schools and their responsibilities versus those of private institution and religious schools. Do the public officials have the authority and go into these schools if they're private or religious to ensure that the teachings are consistent with what's being taught in the public schools?

Mr. Raza: No, sir, it's not. That is why in Toronto we had recently a whole exposé of the Islamic Jaffari Community Centre. They had a private school attached to it, and the literature was coming directly from Iran, and that literature contained hate for the Jewish community, hate for the Christian community. It was exposed. The person concerned, the imam of that mosque, just said, ''I don't know about it.'' A case was registered. It is still ongoing.

When they got into trouble, they called Ms. Raza and said, ''What should we do?'' She said, ''You have to apologize and accept that you have made a mistake. You have to own up. Why were you getting your literature from Iran? Isn't there enough good things to teach kids over here?'' It's still ongoing, but there is no supervision of educational authorities over there.

The Chair: That leads me to my next question. What position would you take? Would you support an undertaking, by in this case it would have to be the provincial government, to pass the necessary policies or laws to ensure that the public officials within the education department are supervising to some degree these institutions to ensure they're meeting the framework of the general education system in the province?

Mr. Raza: Definitely. I would also say that maybe somewhere it's written that they should be doing it, but nobody's doing it. This is one thing that should be implemented. There should be observers, maybe from within the community or outside the community, who should regularly monitor these schools.

The Chair: I would like to move over to another area. While we have such a learned witness here, I'd like to follow up on the question of the financing of terrorist organizations.

Do you have any specific examples of financing for terrorist groups? You've mentioned financing coming in to finance some of the mosques from those organizations outside of the country. What about internally, within the country, raising money to finance terrorism elsewhere, outside the country?

Mr. Raza: Yes. The Islamic Society of North America, three months ago they were challenged, and the CRA have solid proof that they were sending money to some Kashmir group, terrorist group from their mosque. I think the CRA put the charity status under suspension. So it's happening; it's being caught as well. We had some charities that were giving money to the wrong people, and they were also caught, but there are a lot that don't get caught.

With education, I think we have to have some kind of a document that encourages the youth to be part of the Canadian mosaic. We have had that recently done for immigrants coming in, that this is Canada, and this and that. There has to be some way of forming a Canadian identity that is to be circulated in schools — Islamic schools, Jewish schools, everywhere — that should empower them to feel more Canadian than their religious identity.

Senator Ngo: Thank you, Mr. Raza. I would like to follow up on a few questions. As you mentioned, what more can we do as a country to support you and your organization, to support and encourage people like you and your organization to speak up, to have cooperation and contact with the RCMP? What do we need to do to accomplish that?

Mr. Raza: I think we have to have a committee or a group that can focus only on this problem, like we are doing today, but I'm going to fly away from Ottawa, go to Toronto, play with my cat and grandchildren, and it will be sometime before I recollect.

However, we have to have a permanent committee to resolve these issues, step by step, one by one. It's a process that the government knows is happening, the community knows is happening, that something is being done. The youth will feel more empowered that there is somebody they can liaise with.

That's my recommendation, that we must have some body, some platform that we can reach. The RCMP is for crime-related instances. Social organizations are for problems that we are having as a society, but we first of all need to recognize we have a problem, and then we can have a broad-based committee that can reach out and use their expertise and influence to make it better.

Senator Ngo: If that's the case, may I suggest that you have so many organizations like yours, why don't you try to get together and form a committee and let yourselves be known to the government or agencies concerned? We don't know how many organizations you have in Toronto or in Ottawa or in Calgary, and so on. Why don't you do that? Is it possible, or would it be difficult for you?

Mr. Raza: It's possible. We made an attempt last year, and we got all the like-minded, progressive organizations under one umbrella. Two days ago, they had a function and they invited, again, the troubled people, and it's not going to succeed. Politics comes in, social influences come in.

If it's done by the government or a government body that is at the forefront of this, I personally think it would have better results. But we've tried it and we are still trying and we will continue trying.

The Chair: I just want to follow up here. I think we're all struggling here in respect to seeing what governments and the general public can do to help your community, the moderates, which is the vast majority of your community, in being able to withstand this extreme viewpoint that everybody's being branded with, whether we like it or not.

What I don't quite understand is we've had a number of individuals identified through our committee hearings, not just today, who for one reason or another have been identified, indirectly or directly, with terrorist groups.

Nobody has refuted the information that we've been provided with, yet our governments have, for whatever reasons, given them standing. If I was knowledgeable and I had known that these individuals had this background, I would have been the first to phone the authorities to ask why we are dealing with these individuals.

Has your organization or people you know phoned and notified the authorities that there are some individuals with backgrounds that we shouldn't be giving standing to because of their past history? Perhaps you want to comment on that.

Mr. Raza: Yes, we have been involved and we have been alerting people — not necessarily the authorities — bringing it to the attention of the media.

I'll give you one example. There's a charity, and there was an earthquake in Pakistan about eight or ten years back. There was an authority in which Mr. Khadr Sr. worked, and they were very busy getting money for the affected people. We knew where the money was going: It was not going to the affected people.

We wrote, ''Give, but don't give to people who may misuse it,'' and we were sued. We work on two pensions and a professor's salary, so we don't have the means to take care of lawsuits, et cetera. This is the form being used to intimidate people. That's the latest strategy — to keep people quiet, send them a lawsuit. That's one challenge. I'm not sure it can be overcome, but that's a challenge we have.

The second challenge is that the laws are weak. The laws don't stand for these kinds of problems. They're weak because this is a new phenomenon.

Third, we haven't had the breakthrough with law enforcement agencies to listen to us. I'll give you a very simple example. My wife was travelling on a lecture tour and our car glass was broken into on a public street in very upscale area. Her purse was taken out. It had signed cheques in it, it had cash in it and it had her passport and all her identification. I went to the police and I filled out a report. I told them it could be something else. They said they don't want to hear about the complicated and difficult version. So we came back.

Those cheques were like cash. Nothing has been cashed. Nothing has been used. If it was a thief or a drug addict looking for quick change, those cheques would have been cashed, but nothing like that. This was on our way to the airport. There could have been some other reasoning, but that is not entertained. It's too complex. I think people don't want to entertain any kind of complexity.

Yes, we go to law enforcement agencies, we tell them the problem, we alert them to situations, but the reaction is not what we want to hear. Nothing gets done in a manner that is fair to us.

The Chair: Colleagues, we're coming to the end of our time. I want to thank Mr. Raza for appearing. I think you brought forward, from your perspective and your community, how it is. That's one of the reasons we're having this public conversation, to allow people such as yourself to come forward. I know it takes a great deal of strength to do that, and we respect that.

I'd like to now adjourn this meeting and briefly go in camera. Thank you very much.

(The committee continued in camera.)

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