by Robert Spencer

The irony was delicious. The lead paragraph of the Toronto Star story on this week’s terror arrests in Canada was: “In investigators’ offices, an intricate graph plotting the links between the 17 men and teens charged with being members of a homegrown terrorist cell covers at least one wall. And still, says a source, it is difficult to find a common denominator.” But illustrating the story was a photo of two women in full Islamic dress, their faces entirely covered except for a slit for their eyes. Difficult to find a common denominator? The investigators could have found it in the photo accompanying the story about them in the Toronto Star: all the arrested men were Muslims, and as more came out about their plans it was clear that they had been planning jihad attacks. All of which sheds light on why suspects demanded to be given copies of the Koran immediately upon their arrest.

But the mainstream media can find no “common denominator.”

The Star in particular seems to be intent on not diagonizing the cancer which is posing such a deadly threat to the Canadian patient. The initial New York Times story on the arrests identified the suspects as “Canadian residents” and as “mainly of South Asian descent.” It rather weirdly assures readers immediately thereafter that “none of them had any known affiliation with Al Qaeda” — an affiliation it had given no one any reason to suspect in the first place. The only mention of “Islam” in the story came in the name of one of those arrested, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee — and there was no mention at all of the jihad ideology that motivated those arrested.

The Times story also revealed that this denial was not solely the province of the media. It quoted Mike McDonell, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police assistant commissioner, trafficking in flagrant misrepresentations and irrelevancies: “They represent the broad strata of our society. Some are students, some are employed, some are unemployed.” The broad strata of Saudi Arabian society, maybe, but not the broad strata of Canadian society. Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair joined in the denial, noting proudly that during the press conference following the arrests, “I would remind you that there was not one single reference made by law enforcement to Muslim or Muslim community.”

But why not? The Canadian Muslim community is clearly involved in this, and they know it: they have been backtracking furiously from those arrested, but in ways that only raise more questions. The Toronto Star speaks with some of the members of a school Muslim association to which some of those arrested belonged. Once those who are now terror suspects “discussed at an association gathering whether suicide bombing was permissible in Islam. Their views were so violent that the other association members threatened to have them banned.” But evidently they didn’t follow through on the threat (why not?) or report them to authorities (again, why not?).

Likewise the Star reports that another suspect, Qayyum Abdul Jamal, actively spread the jihad ideology at the Ar-Rahman Islamic Center for Islamic Education in southern Ontario. Indeed, his “outspoken Wahhabist views” had “alarmed” some of the directors of the Islamic center. But, says the paper, because Jamal unlocked the mosque for daily prayers and mosque officials valued his services as a caretaker, they did nothing to stop his preaching. Apparently forgetting that Jamal had been allowed to preach freely, Center Imam Qamrul Khanson said of those arrested: “I will say that they were steadfast, religious people. There’s no doubt about it. But here we always preach peace and moderation.”

The Star doesn’t seem to find anything odd in this, and Canadian officials are congratulating themselves for insisting, as did Police Chief Blair, that the jihadist suspects were “motivated by an ideology based on politics, hatred and terrorism, and not on faith.”

How does he know that? The suspects met in a mosque. They discussed their plot in the context of religion. Their fellow students and mosquegoers knew they were preaching and studying violent jihad, and did nothing to stop them. Instead of going out of his way to claim that Islam had nothing to do with this, and devoting all their attention to trying to prevent backlash attacks, Blair and other Canadian officials should be asking the Canadian Muslim community some tough questions, including:

  • Why didn’t you come to us when you knew that violent jihad was being preached in Ontario?
  • What other Muslims are preaching violent jihad in Canada, and where?
  • What is the extent of support for jihad and the imposition of Sharia among Muslims in Canada?
  • Would you yourselves like to see Canada become an Islamic state, even by peaceful means?

How much longer can officials in Canada and elsewhere in the West wait to ask these questions, and to follow through on the implications of the answers? If the jihadists just arrested in Canada had carried out their plans, they would have beheaded the Prime Minister of Canada and other members of Parliament, and destroyed the Toronto Stock Exchange and other Canadian landmarks.

Will it take a successful jihad attack of this kind for Western officials to wake up and do what they must do in order to guarantee the security of the societies they have been entrusted with protecting?