Thursday, August 26, 2010

Superficial Assimilation

Remember those lads who blew up themselves and some others on the London transit system some years ago? Remember how reports at the time mentioned how utterly shocked their relatives and others were to learn of their involvement because, outwardly at least, the lads seemed so thoroughly British--fans of football, video games and fish 'n' chips? How could these of all young'uns be lured into hiding bombs in their rucksacks and "martyring" themselves for Allah's cause?

My thoughts turned to those ostensibly--but not genuinely--assimilated young Brits when I read this report in the National Post about the young men ensnared by the RCMP's "Project Samosa". One of them--a young man who, until now had been pursuing a very successful medical career, who adored playing hockey and who appeared to be thoroughly Canadianized--shocked his relatives by becoming involved in what is alleged to be a jihadi terrorist plot:
Here we have a young man who, by all appearances, is well-rounded and has his act together--a hail-fellow-well-met, respected physician, husband, father, who, in his down time, plays hockey. A person who, on the face of it, would be deemed a success. And yet--and yet--he was willing to throw it all away (allegedly) for the chance to kill Canadians in the most horrible way imaginable. The only way to comprehend what appears to the rest of us to be crazy is this: to those who are receptive to it, the siren call of jihad is so alluring, so utterly beguiling, that it trumps everything else. It can compel an obviously intelligent professional who seemingly has everything to live for to throw it all away on what amounts to a crap shoot.
In 2007, Dr. Khurram Sher was one of a group of doctors who signed a letter to then-Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day protesting the treatment of three Muslim men who were being held in a Kingston penitentiary on security certificates. Dr. Sher is a 2005 graduate of the McGill medical school in Montreal and was in Pakistan in 2006 during the relief efforts after an earthquake in Kashmir.
Khurram Sher's uncle, Rafat Syed said he was stunned by the charges his nephew is facing.
"Oh my god, impossible. He's not that type of person. You must be joking," Mr. Syed said. "These days, frankly speaking, you cannot even trust your brother or sister. The world is getting nasty."
Mr. Syed thinks it's possible that his nephew was framed by someone who might be jealous of his success.
Dr. Sher was born in Montreal, but recently moved to work as a pathologist at the St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital in southwestern Ontario, said his uncle, Rafat Syed.
Dr. Sher, an only child, lost his father to cancer several years ago and his mother is living in southwestern Ontario.
Dr. Sher was married several years ago and has three young children, including an infant.
Mr. Syed described his nephew as "very sporty" and said would have likely become a hockey player if he didn't go into medicine... 
It that nuts? Or should it be seem more like an addiction --one becomes addicted to the excitement of the subterfuge, the thrill of the conspiracy, in the same way that, say, a gambler becomes addicted to the blackjack table? I don't have the expertise to address the matter, but it would seem to me to be an interesting area of study.

Update: You can't get any more mainstream Canadian than this--the suspect once tried out for Canadian Idol. (H/T BCF)

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