Five people were injured, including Const. Michael Chernyk, in a terrorist attack in Edmonton Saturday night. Thirty-year-old Abduhali Sharif is charged with several offenses, including five counts of attempted murder.
Police report finding an ISIS flag in a car used during the attack.
Abdi Gure is president of the Prairie Somali Canadian Community Centre (PSCCC) in Regina. He used to live in Edmonton and has been in regular contact with Somali leader there since the attack took place.
“They are all in shock, they are trying to piece things together to find out exactly what happened to this individual and why he did this,” Gure said.
While more is expected to be learned about Sharif’s motive as the investigation continues, Gure said that the threat of ISIS and other terrorist groups needs to be acknowledged.
“All we can do as a community is know that our young people are susceptible, sensitive, they’re vulnerable to many things these organizations of terror are doing,” Gure said.
“They are taking advantage of the unemployment, underemployment of our youth. They are brainwashing them.”
A RCMP document on violent extremism says groups like ISIS heavily rely on the internet to influence young people and attract them to their causes.
Gure and other PSCCC members have already been talking with young people about radicalization.
“We are trying our best to fight this, to defeat this as much as we can with what ever possible resources, and with our own means,” he said.
“I wish we could have the solutions in front of us today to utilize to fix this problem, but this is more than a community, more than a country, it’s a global issue.”
The PSCCC is not alone. The African Canadian Resource Network (ACRN) has applied for funding through the public safety ministry. This comes after a few Somali youth began withdrawing from mainstream society according to ACRN acting executive director Kiunbura Githinji.
“We realize that although [radicalization] is not prevalent in Saskatchewan. We realize that because it’s happening in other provinces, chances are it’s a threat to our future. So we wanted to be proactive,” Githinji said.
While the Somali community is working to get ahead of potential issues, both Gure and Githinji said that it is important to remember that there are good people everywhere, and there are also bad people everywhere. Both used the example of the 64-year-old Caucasian shooter who took at least 59 lives and injured more than 500 people in Las Vegas Sunday.
Gure said that while the Regina Somali community does its part, it is important to emphasize unity amongst the entire population.
“This is not our tradition, this is not our belief, this is not what Islam and our religion stands for. We all stand together to condemn this in the strongest possible terms,” Gure said.