Jihadi’s return to Syria ‘a great deal of surprise to all of us’: Windsor mosque/Canada
Stewart Bell | July 28, 2014/National Post
More from Stewart Bell | @StewartBellNP
The president of a southern Ontario mosque described Monday how the community had attempted to dissuade a young Canadian from rejoining the conflict in Syria after he returned home with a combat injury.
Despite the effort, Ahmed Wassim of Windsor, Ont., allegedly made his way back to Syria and has been active on social media, posting photos of himself and advising others on how to join the fight.
“The news of Mr. Wassim’s alleged involvement in Syria comes with a great deal of surprise to all of us,” Khalid Raana, president of the Windsor Islamic Association, said in a statement.
“As soon as the details of Mr. Wassim’s case were brought to our attention by the law enforcement agencies, the imam along with other board members and prominent community leaders actively counselled and encouraged Mr. Wassim to refrain from getting involved with any armed conflict in Syria and, instead, urged him to become constructively involved in humanitarian and charitable work,” it said.
The statement said there were no known members of the community acting as recruiters or motivators. “In fact, this notion is firmly discouraged, as it is against the very principles we stand for.”
In an exclusive report, the National Post revealed on the weekend how both the community and Canadian authorities had struggled to discourage Mr. Wassim from returning to Syria following his injury.
The RCMP said Friday that Mr. Wassim had been charged with a passport-related offence. The charge was filed the same week RCMP charged a B.C. man for allegedly joining Islamist fighters in Syria.
The flow of radicalized youths to Syria and elsewhere has become a top national security priority for Canada — particularly after two London, Ont., men took part in a terrorist attack at an Algerian gas plant last January.
In his statement, Mr. Raana said he wanted to make known the efforts the association had undertaken “to help avoid such a situation, and to also assure all Canadians that the Windsor mosque and all its members are committed to peace and safety for all people, regardless of their religious affiliation.”
He said the mosque had been proactively working to prevent and eliminate “extremist indoctrinations, violent behaviours or any involvement in unlawful domestic or international conflicts.”
“The Windsor mosque has an official documented policy that ensures that no person is allowed to address the congregation or educate people from a religious perspective, except the imam and those designated by him or the Windsor mosque’s board of directors. Persons so designated, ensure that these are consistent with true Islamic teachings which do not support radical or extreme ideologies.”
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