On Friday, 17 men were arrested. They have been charged with plotting to carry out a terrorist attack. Fifteen of the men are in court today. Of the 17 arrested, five of them are protected under the Young Offenders Act. There isn't much I can add to what we know or don't know about the suspects and their intended target or suspected modus operandi, but I would like to offer a few opinions on the whole mess.
No terrorist should be protected under the Young Offender's Act. Anyone who is capable of plotting to commit an act of terror is old enough to be tried in adult court. In the interest of public safety, information concerning these "young" offenders should be made publicly available. I don't believe in the Young Offender's Act anyway, but since we are stuck with it, the Act must be updated in order to accommodate the changing security needs of our country.
While I was watching a few news reports last night on the arrested men, I could not help but notice the age gap between the ring leader and his followers. Qayyum Abdul Jamal is 43 years old. He was the caretaker at a mosque and occasionally led prayer. Ironically, he was considered a "role model" at the mosque. That most of his followers were much younger than himself is a profound statement on Jamal's character, or lack thereof. Why could he not convince mature, experienced men to help him in his plan? Why did he require the pliable minds of the young? It seems likely that Jamal has some issues related to control. His behaviour in this regard is not unlike that of cult leaders.
Next closest to him in age is Shareef Abdelhaleen, who is 30 years old. His father furiously defended him on television last night, despite prior weapons related charges against him. The rest of the arrested men were 21 or younger. One, Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, is a recent graduate from McMaster University. At only 21 years of age, it would appear that planning to blow up a prominent Canadian building was on his "to do after graduation" list.
Way to make me proud of my alma mater.
As far as I can find, there has been no formal statement issued by the University or the Muslim Student's Association.
The head of the Canadian Islamic Congress, Mohammed Elmasry has been full of his usual crap, in an effort to deflect a possible backlash against the Muslim community. His latest plan is the newly created Nichola Goddard Scholarship In Peace And Conflict Studies, a PR stunt if ever there was one. To be frank, I doubt there will be much of a significant backlash. It's true, there have been some instances of vandalism. However, mass riots against the local mosque, beatings and so on are extremely unlikely. I am not even certain that Friday's arrest will resonate with most Canadians for longer than a week or two unless you are from Washago, where the terrorists were training. People will be content to live their lives, fatalistically believing that if an attack comes, there was nothing we could do anyway.