Converts who kill. They are one of the most frightening dimensions for the West in the war against worldwide jihad and Canada may be the next Western country facing the unprecedented danger they represent.
The respected publication Asia Times reported last Friday that a group of 12 Canadian converts to radical Islam are being trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan’s tribal areas to carry out terrorist strikes in Canadian cities. The report’s authors, Syed Saleem Shahzad and Tahir Ali, state that the use of native converts like the Canadians is part of a long-term plan, developed since 2002 by al Qaeda, to bring the war to Western countries.
“Al-Qaeda had regrouped (after 9/11) in Pakistan’s South Waziristan tribal area on the border with Afghanistan, and used this base to develop propaganda media structures to recruit in the West,” wrote Shahzad and Ali.
According to the story, the Canadians “joined the Egyptian militant organization Jihad al-Islami (JAI), which then helped them reach Afghanistan.” Based now in North Waziristan, the headquarters of world terrorism, the Canadians are headed by a 30-year old with a “golden beard.” The report listed six of their names, although the Shahzad and Ali stated the names could not be verified; but all appeared to be of either English or French origin.
A local source from Pakistan’s terrorist milieu told the Asia Times writers that after basic training in Afghanistan, the Canadians graduated to more specialized courses of killing in North Waziristan.
“Their main learning is how to use sophisticated weapons, and how to connect with local smuggling networks in North America,” the source said. “They are also learning how to use ordinary material like sugar and basic chemicals to make powerful explosives. These militants will then return to their country to execute al-Qaeda’s plan of targeting big cities in Canada.”
The fact that Islamic extremists can recruit Europeans and North Americans, especially among the white population, has always been a disturbing development in the war against Islamic extremism. The advantages are obvious. The nativeness of such converts provide them with a camouflage foreign terrorists don’t have. Armed with a valid passport, a fair-haired convert-terrorist dressed in a three-piece Armani suit and carrying a briefcase, speaking the target country’s language perfectly and looking like a prosperous businessman, will not arouse the same suspicion at an airport entry point as a person of Middle Eastern appearance with accent-laden speech.
And it is this greater facility to leave and return to a target country that makes the convert-terrorist a major threat. Moreover, once inside the target country, his knowledge of local conditions also allows him to function in a less detectable manner than a foreign terrorist.
Islamic terrorist groups have long recognised the value of such hard-to-detect converts, especially the white ones, who are highly prized, since they arouse less suspicion. It is also for this increased ability to fly under the security radar that the blonder and more blue-eyed the radical converts are, the more sought after they are by al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Already in the 1990s, Hezbollah used a blond-haired, blue-eyed German convert to travel to Israel as a spy after training in a camp in southern Lebanon. Another German convert masterminded a synagogue bombing in Tunisia in April, 2002, in which 21 people died. And only two months ago, Germany was on a high state of alert as a group of terrorists that included white German converts was reported to be returning from terrorist camps in North Waziristan to stage an attack in their native land.