POLITICS

RCMP steps away from Islamic booklet about risk of radical extremist groups

09/30/2014 08:45 EDT | Updated 11/30/2014 05:59 EST
WINNIPEG - The RCMP has stepped away from its involvement with a booklet being produced by two Islamic groups that is aimed at youth who are in danger of being radicalized.

The booklet, titled "United Against Terrorism," is meant to combat the glossy recruitment videos of extremists such as ISIL, and is being published by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Islamic Social Services Association.

But on Tuesday, the RCMP issued a statement saying that after a final review, they "could not support the adversarial tone set by elements of the booklet and therefore directed RCMP Manitoba not to proceed with this initiative."

The news release says the RCMP contributed to one section of the booklet titled "Understanding Radicalization and the role of RCMP in law enforcement and national security," but takes no responsibility for any other material in the publication.

Officials with both groups issued a statement late Tuesday saying they appreciate the RCMP's contributions and consider the booklet a success.

"We have received enthusiastic support for this initiative from Canadians across the country and countless requests to distribute the handbook in our diverse communities," said the statement from Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the Muslim council, and Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Islamic association.

"The handbook does take an adversarial stance against violent extremists and those who seek to recruit and radicalize Canadian youth towards criminal violence."

They pointed out the content of the handbook was shared with all contributors "for constructive feedback" throughout the 14-month development process, and noted the page one disclaimer saying contributors were only responsible for their respective portions "and do not necessarily endorse other material contained in this publication."

The RCMP did not specify which aspects of the booklet were concerning and said all questions about the issue should be addressed to the Islamic groups.

The booklet has the RCMP logo on its cover.

Siddiqui said earlier this week that the publication is aimed at alerting parents to warning signs that their kids may be radicalized — sudden anti-social behaviour, an interest in extremist websites and an adoption of views that are anti-women.

The booklet comes amid a small but growing number of reports of Canadians joining extremist groups and some going overseas.

Earlier this month, the Canadian Somali Congress of Western Canada wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and warned that young people in Alberta are being recruited to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Last winter, Damian Clairmont, a 22-year-old Calgary man, was killed while fighting with Islamic extremists in Syria. His mother, Chris Boudreau, has called for new efforts to reach young people before they become radicalized and go overseas.