News / Ottawa

RCMP on the right path with program to prevent radicalization: Carleton prof

A Carleton University professor says the RCMP’s new program to prevent violent radicalization in Canada has “a lot of potential” to be effective — partly because of support that already exists in the community.

Marc W.D. Tyrrell, senior research fellow at the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, said the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program has a better chance at being successful than similar programs launched in other countries.

The RCMP told Metro in an email it expects to roll out the CVE program in the winter months of 2015 and front line law enforcement officers have already received specialized training.

“The aim of the RCMP CVE program is to act before criminality occurs and to educate partners about the resources that are available to assist individuals at risk of being radicalized to violence,” wrote RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Greg Cox.

When an intervention is required, the RCMP said it would identify support resources either from law enforcement, community partners, and families to ensure the radicalized person is “exposed to a positive influence.”

This is key for the program to work well because police can’t do it themselves, said Tyrrell.

Recently, progressive Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at groups across Canada launched their own anti-radicalization programs aimed at local youth. In Ottawa, Imam Imtiaz Ahmed has been holding talks at universities about how Islamic State militants' philosophies are the farthest things from Islamic teachings.

“(That) can be exceedingly effective. Is this a complement to (CVE)? Yeah, it is. The idea of actually teaching people what Islam is, teaching them the Qur’an,” he said.

The RCMP said radicalization is not limited to any ethnic or religious group and the CVE program does not focus on specific communities based on their ethnic background or religious faith.

Family members and peers are the ones who most likely to notice behavioural changes that can lead to radicalization, according to Cox. They include "withdrawal from regular social interactions (e.g., friends, clubs, sports, school, etc.), isolation, espousing hatred or violence, segregation, and talking about 'us' vs. 'them' mentality."

Cox said it's often the case that parents of known extremists from Canada said they had no idea what their kids were up to.

"This program may give them a place where they can ask questions," he said, "and at least get a better feel for it."

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