On January 19, 2018, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi announced nearly $4 million in federal funding to two organizations working to address radicalization to violence in Alberta.
Around $2.2 million over five years will go to the Edmonton Police Service for The Resiliency Project, a collaboration between the City of Edmonton and the Organization for the Prevention of Violence (POV), which aims to discourage individuals from radicalizing to violence by addressing the potential sources of violent extremism available online and offline.
$1.2 million over three years will be allocated to POV for its Countering Violent Extremism in Alberta project, which will assess and map potential sources of violent extremism throughout Alberta and will help establish partnerships required to address radicalization to violence in the province.
John McCoy, executive director of POV told the Edmonton Journal that “radicalization is a major issue, especially in Alberta, which has a long history of far-right extremist groups”.
McCoy’s statement contradicts a new report released by Public Safety Canada which says that violent Islamist ideology inspired by groups such as ISIS and al-Qaeda continues to pose the main terrorist threat to Canada.
Security experts say that homegrown Islamic terrorism remains the number one threat to Canada’s national security.
Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale confirmed that out of 190 or so extremists with a Canadian connection who travelled overseas, approximately 60 extremists returned to Canada after fighting with various terror groups.
In a September 30, 2017 attack, a Somali refugee rammed a police officer with a rented U-Haul van, got out of the car and stabbed him several times, escaping and subsequently running down several pedestrians in downtown Edmonton.
Several high-profile Islamic jihadists who were radicalized in Alberta travelled overseas to join terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.
Damian Clairmont, a 22-year-old convert to Islam, left Canada to fight with al-Qaeda linked rebels, and was killed in Syria in 2014.
According to a CBC report, Clairmont and several other jihadists were radicalized in a room connected to the Downtown 8th & 8th Mosque, which shut its doors in 2017.
Also in 2014, Calgarian Salman Ashrafi, a former downtown oil-and-gas worker turned suicide bomber, drove a car filled with explosives into an Iraqi army base north of Baghdad, killing 19 people.
Brothers Gregory and Collin Gordon, Calgarians of Jamaican descent who converted to Islam, were radicalized while participating in a local Islamic study group, traveled in 2012 to Syria to join ISIS and were killed in an air strike on ISIS targets near Dabiq.
In 2015, Farah Mohamed Shirdon, a former student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, had terrorism charges laid against him by the RCMP in absentia. Shirdon, one of the most prominent Canadian born Islamic jihadists, appeared in an infamous ISIS video released in June, 2014 in which he burned his Canadian passport. Before burning the passport, Shirdon, in full view of the camera, issued a threat to Canada, the U.S. and “all oppressors” and said: “We are coming and we will destroy you by the will of God…we are coming to slaughter you.”