This day in terrorism: September 14, 2016

NB due to technical issues this blog is two days late: my apologies

If you follow the news even a bit you know that places of worship are prime targets for terrorists and hatemongers. There are probably several reasons for this: they are generally unprotected; they are full of people at times; and they are magnets for hate. What better way to ‘make your point’ if you are trying to send the world a message?

Of late we have seen attacks on two mosques in New Zealand, a synagogue in Pittsburgh and a Catholic Church in Sri Lanka. Many, many people died in those horrific incidents. We in Canada also saw the January 2017 shootings at a mosque in Quebec City in which six men died at the hands of a hateful Alexandre Bissonnette.

On this day two years ago there was another mosque attack, albeit, thankfully, one with no casualties. A man who attempted to burn down a Hamilton mosque on this day three years ago was sentenced to 25 months in prison in May 2017. Interestingly, that attack came fifteen years to the day after the Hindu Samaj Temple in Hamilton was burned to the ground by three morons who thought it was a mosque (i.e. four days after 9/11).

Keith Frederick apparently expressed ‘open remorse’ in court adding that the whole episode was “outside my character”. Hmm. This is the same guy who texted his uncle in the two weeks previous saying he had more than one target “scoped out”, asked for help procuring explosives and firearms and stated “I’ll bring my own jihad to those camel f—ers,” 

Yep, sure sounds ‘out of character’ to me. 25 months does not seem like enough of a punishment to me.

I have to hand it to Hamilton’s Muslim community – they were magnanimous when they noted that ‘forgiveness and helping wrongdoers to change’ are fundamental values in their belief system. This is in spite of the fact that the arson attempt left them fearful, apprehensive and anxious. Elders who wear traditional dress started wearing different clothing. There was a decrease in the number of attendants, with children telling their parents they “don’t want to be burned alive.” Students who once attended the mosque’s evening classes three times a week completely stopped coming, leading to a drop in revenue. So, despite the ‘minor’ nature of the act it has had widespread effects.

That is what fear does. It makes us change the way we do things. Terrorism makes us different.

I’d like to think we are going to see fewer such attacks on places of worship. In today’s atmosphere of hate, however, I don’t think we will.

I really hope I am wrong.

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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