A Black Sheep in Every Flock

A Black Sheep in Every Flock

The Growing Number of Terrorists Among Us

By: Lyndsey Rosevear

Black-sheepThe unimaginable has happened: Canadian citizens have become terrorists.

Whether or not they are ‘true Canadians’ or just ‘passport-holding Canadians’ (sarcasm intended and derived from recent political debates) the unveiling of recent world events show some of the people listed on Canada’s roster are actually playing for the other team “the Bad Guys.”  A bus bomb in Bulgaria killing 6 on July 18, 2012; and a hostage situation at an Algerian gas plant in January leaving 55 people dead have left the security stains visible to all and questions needing answers.

In response, Canada’s spy agency CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service) has released information stating that “now more than ever, Canadians are more likely to become terrorists.”  Standing in front of Parliament on February 11, Richard Fadden, the head of CSIS, divulged findings from a report detailing who are the individuals most likely to turn to terrorism.  It states that Canadian-born, non-Muslims, non religious fanatics are the most likely to turn into people who willingly commit horrific crimes against groups of innocent people and that it is most often young people looking for something to be involved in.[1]

Now hold on; bored, young, easily influenced people being recruited or enlisted into organizations where they find purpose, camaraderie, support, excitement, and sometimes danger is nothing new.  The stark difference in this case is that, instead of say, joining a grassroots movement against an environmental issue du jour, these individuals are joining terrorist organizations offered in Canada.  But are they the kind of  people who are longing to belong to something where they feel part of it or just of end up in the wrong place?  Or more frighteningly, is it deeper than that and rooted in deep hatred and indoctrination? Terrorists-to-be are definitely people whose world-view is affected resulting in a warped principle-based approach to conflict resolution.

For me, terrorists in Quebec are hard to imagine. Living in a generally safe, sleepy government town surrounded by suburbs and filled with university students, there is never a shortage of issues to protest or causes to join. Personally, I have found the youth of this province quite reasonably engaged and active in their role within this society where images of tuition protests and Idle No More rallies are etched in my head.

Despite this, terrorists-to be are on the rise. According to CSIS, the potential of confused, cause-searching, longing young Canadians getting caught up in the wrong circle is higher than ever before. In a way, it was bound to happen as no country, region or era has ever been immune to this kind of behaviour.

After the events of 9-11, Canadian officials devised a nation-wide counter terrorist strategy entitled, “Building Resilience Against Terrorism,”  to address imminent security threats. It stresses how the Canadian government, at all levels, needs to stand beside average citizens in order to make the strategy successful.

If it seems a bit vague to imagine standing side by side with various levels of government, think of terrorists as a kind of bully.  Within this example, akin to anti-bullying strategies,  countering terrorism relies on intelligence from its citizens in order to provide successful interventions. It relies on individual people to be collectively engaged in order to prevent and report so the appropriate officials can best deal with the suspect. In this scenario, members of the public are implicated in the responsibility of prevention and if questionable activity is spotted or suspected the information must be relayed to an official. This is participatory collective security and in a way, standing side by side with the government.

Ensuring the safety of Canada’s citizens at home and abroad are stated as being the first and foremost concerns of the Canadian government.

With the help of members of society, government will better be able to address prevent, deny, address and respond. Awareness is the first step to creating social change and the addressing terrorism is about preventing individuals from engaging in terrorism through education, dissemination of information and  cooperation.

Within a perceived culture of fear, everyone still has the right to feel safe and secure. There is a place where citizens can be engaged and informed, and at the same time, continue to freely live their lives.  As shown by recent world events, the threat is real and should be treated as such. It is not solely the government’s job to protect us, it is also the duty of every citizen. After all, security is a human thing: people protecting people.

N.B. The title “Black Sheep in Every Flock” makes reference to (and only to) an old English expression dating back to the 1700’s.



[1]  Canadian Press via Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/02/11/al-qaeda-canadian-recruits-csis_n_2665989.htm, February 11, 2013.

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About the author:

Lyndsey_Rosevear_HeadshotLyndsey shares her time between Quebec City, British Columbia, and travelling. She holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Calgary, focusing on security and strategy and a MA in Peace and Conflict from the European Peace University in Austria, focusing on human rights. She worked in the development sector for 8 years founding a non-profit organization in Nicaragua. She is a seasonal Forest Firefighter in British Columbia and currently lives in Quebec where she is studying French.

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