It is also a breeding ground for every foul act imaginable including murder, genocide and the slow destruction of the earth itself. In our world, every facet of life and death is filled with extremes that almost defy a person’s imagination. One of the latest extremes that caught my attention is the number of young men living in the western hemisphere that are being lured to join Islamic extremist groups.
Such action by young fanatics caused me to ponder why any Canadian would abandon this great nation that constitutionally guarantees its citizens some of the world’s greatest freedoms and rights and instead choose to fight with militant Islamic organizations. It is an interesting question in light of the great life we have in Canada. In fact, Canadians have so many legal rights that we can rightfully oppose others who are expressing or exercising their constitutional rights. Thankfully tolerance and peace are hallmark characteristics of Canada that are generally well known around the world, but that appears to be changing.
It seems that our nation will be stepping back into the battle against radical ideologists in the Middle East in the hopes of stopping terrorist threats such as ISIS that have gained notoriety for their on-line execution of westerners including journalists. Like other nations, Canada did not learn from the example of the former USSR that invading Afghanistan and fighting a conventional war was not a wise move. Their was no winner in that conflict, only losers on both side including the thousands of people who were killed and injured. The war against jihadists forces in Afghanistan continues today and there is no end in sight.
What is it that draws people, especially young people to adopt the violent views of groups such as al-Qaida and ISIS?
The Globe and Mail published a story in which Canadian security officials claim more than 130 citizens have left our country to be part of terrorist activities or help fund the activities of extremists. Why would anyone leave a peaceful country such as Canada to join a terrorist group and fight in Syria or Iraq that does not allow freedoms that we take for granted?
I believe there are a few basic reasons people join extremists. Obviously ideology plays a big role and implanting ideas that fighting for an underdog that is going head-to-head with world forces(especially U.S.A.) seems to be a noble cause in the mind of a radical. For that reason the internet and social media such as facebook and twitter have been very useful tools when it comes to implanting seeds in young minds around the world. The follow up comes as a clever mix of God and propaganda.
It seems to me that people who join extremist groups do it for the same reasons that an individual joins a gang – there is an deep internal desire to belong to a special group and be feel like one of the family. This can be especially true in families that are broken or have poor or dysfunctional relationships between parents and children. To prove their loyalty and be welcomed to a gang, a potential member must successfully commit a criminal act that is assigned to them. I am sure terrorist groups are no different than gangs and therefore heinous acts such as beheadings are committed as an initiation ritual by some of their western recruits. Furthermore, radicals know their chief weapon is terror and they inflict it on as many people as possible knowing social and news media will transmit their evil acts to the entire world.
Personal contact is important in becoming a true terrorist as individuals are mentored in the craft and go from being spoon-fed lies to personally proclaiming the organization’s doctrine of hate to anyone who will listen.
People who join groups such as ISIS may also be thrill-seekers who are looking for excitement – the ultimate rush – or they may be searching for something that is truly meaningful. Could it be possible that our 21st-century lifestyle that offers every luxury possible is not providing real fulfillment? I can recall reaching a point in my life as a young man when toys and possessions no longer provided a lasting sense of satisfaction. I believe terrorist groups cleverly use propaganda to convince people that their cause provides emotional and spiritual fulfillment that is lacking in the west.
Estimates of ISIS strength vary from 10,000 to 40,000 fighters with the majority of members coming from the Middle East, predominately Syria and Iraq. It is thought 2,300 are foreigners.
As Canada prepares to again join the overseas fight against terrorism, it seems to me that our best offence is a good defense. It’s time border and airport security and Immigration Canada start focusing on the highest possible security risks, but that may be contrary to our constitution.
As I stated earlier, our world is truly an interesting place and unfortunately it is largely due to the misguided efforts of man. One thing that is guaranteed is history will repeat itself in one form or another.
PS – Angela is returning from Switzerland this Saturday and my stock of frozen dinners is basically depleted. Please remember, I am available at meal time and like most foods.