The tenuous human bridges in Canada’s fight against ‘homegrown’ terror

By Laura Broadley | Global News
August 6, 2014

Twice in the past few weeks, families have approached Hussein Hamdani with a dilemma. They’re worried their children want to go fight in Syria, and they don’t know what to do: Leery of law enforcement on the one hand, they also don’t want their kids to die among extremists in a foreign country.

The Hamilton lawyer is used to this: He and counterparts across Canada have become de facto human bridges between community members concerned about troubled youth and police on alert for so-called “homegrown” terror suspects…

… And the National Council of Canadian Muslims has members in cities across the country acting as a resource for people contacted by the authorities. The council ensures people know their rights and encourages them not to answer questions without a lawyer present.

Most of the lawyers that do this work for free, says council executive director Ihsaan Gardee.

Imams or other leaders are often the liaisons between the authorities and their community, contacting designated police outreach officers when there’s a concern…

… Gardee’s convinced partnerships between authorities and Muslim communities are the most effective way to combat extremist violence – and there’s room for improvement there, he said.

“I think a lot more work can be done in terms of improving relationships, improving communications.”