Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Canada's Half-Full/Empty Glass

Yesterday, an apparently radicalized recent convert drove his car into a couple of Canadian Forces soldiers.  This is the first successful attack by a "homegrown" Islamist extremist.*
* I had a quick conversation this morning with my colleague, Jez Littlewood, who is our terrorism expert, that informs this post.  One should go to him for an informed take on these events. 

The good news is that only one person was killed.  The second soldier was not as seriously hurt. 

The bad news is that a guy who only converted in the past year or so decided to engage in violence. 

The good news is that he was apparently "known" to the authorities. 

The bad news is that this attack might have been inspired by "Inspire" magazine, which is an Islamist extremist publication that has encouraged their readers to engage in such attacks. 

The good news is that this might represent progress in counter-terrorism--that Inspire and its kin are pushing for low level violence because the organizations have been pressured enough by a variety of efforts that they cannot plan and stage bigger attacks. 

The bad news is that this event was first known across Canada via a planted question in Question Period, quickly politicizing it.  Perhaps this is because an election is less than a year away, perhaps it is because the government wants to pass some counter-terrorism legislation.

The good news is that the reports indicate that the opposition did not really bite, that Mulcair treated the story well.

The bad news is that this is not the first example of this kind of low level attack, with Australia and UK having very small scale attacks in the past year by knife-wielding extremists.

The challenge in all of this is that governments and publics need to react but not overreact to these events.  Any loss of life is a tragedy, but we need to have some perspective on all of this.  My good news/bad news list illustrates this reality--concern is required but let's not give into the terror that ISIS, Al Qaeda and other groups want to create.

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