What does Aaron Driver’s martyrdom video tell us

Another video, another promise of terrorism. You would think that we’d be getting tired of these by now.  Every wannabe martyr goes online, films himself (or herself) – or gets someone else to film – rants on about how we in the West are the aggressor against Islam and Muslims, and threatens to kill us irregardless of whether we stop whatever it is that we are doing that supposedly ticks them off.  We in Canada have seen our share, from Farah Shirdon (Calgary) to Andre Poulin (Timmins) to John Maguire (Kemptville/Ottawa).  This stuff is so ubiquitous that it has been called “jihadi porn”.

And now Aaron Driver, the 24 year old resident of Winnipeg/Strathroy who was killed on Wednesday (August 10) by the RCMP as he tried to get a cab to take him to places unknown to carry out a terrorist attack using explosives.  One of the main reasons authorities were on to him was that the video was posted online too early and the FBI found it, passing a screen shot up to the Mounties.  Islamic State (surprise, surprise) has called Mr. Driver a “soldier of Islam” (if all those named as such were actually “soldiers” IS would have the largest army in the world!) although it did admit that posting the video early was a – ahem – “mistake”.

Is there any point in examining the video for “clues”?  Not really, for the simple reason that Mr. Driver’s performance was not very original.  In fact, when I first viewed it I had to make sure it was in fact Mr. Driver and not John Maguire:  the content was eerily similar.

For the record here are some comments on some of the content

  • “O Canada” – no, he is not about to sing the national anthem (since everything we stand for disgusts him): the phrase is an Arabic-language rhetorical device (Ya Kanada)
  • “You have received many warnings” – Driver is following on the statements from those that came before him
  • He told us that we were part of a war against IS and that we would have to pay for our actions.  Canada’s allies are being “punished” for their “aggression” against Muslims and so will we – this is part of the “narrative” used by every Islamist extremist group
  • Despite our decision to end the military mission in Afghanistan we still have “much to pay for” (he actually says we “ran away from the battlefield, implying cowardice: IS members are, of course, lions, heroes and soldiers).  We can only pay for the lives we took with our own.
  • We have “blood on our hands” and the mujahedin are now “thirsty for our blood” (sometimes they say “as you love life we love death”)
  • He reiterates that we have engaged in a “war against Islam” – that is a common accusation
  • If we move “one inch” towards the “lands of Islam” we will be held accountable – this is very reminiscent of Abdallah Azzam (the spiritual founder of AQ) who said that jihad was obligatory on all Muslims if “one square inch” of Muslim land was occupied
  • He pledges allegiance to IS: not at all surprising for someone who expressed support for the terrorist group back in 2014.

That’s  it.  There is absolutely nothing new or interesting in this video. In fact, if you compare Mr. Driver’s words to those of Mr. Maguire you will come to the conclusion that Mr. Maguire could sue for plagiarism.

We can learn nothing from Mr. Driver’s last words on earth.  It is time to move on.  I regret the loss of life, but Mr. Driver chose his fate.  He got what he wanted (partially) and what he deserved.  Thankfully – and especially thanks to the RCMP and their partners – no one else was seriously injured.

Let us end on a positive note.  Mr. Driver’s attempted attack is the first since Michael Zehaf-Bibeau in October 2014.  Whatever we are doing here in Canada let’s keep it up.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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