Monday, August 30, 2010

Terror analysis: The danger of dismissing the absurd

There is endless fodder for jokes, from the RCMP’s name for the investigation — Project Samosa — to speculation about the doctor-terrorism-suspect moonwalking into court. The arrests this week of four men police say were involved in a bomb plot — or in the words of one investigator, were hoping to bring the war in Afghanistan here — seem both chilling and ridiculous. While none of the allegations has been proven in court, even trying to fathom that 28-year-old pathologist and failed Canadian Idol contestant Dr. Khurram Sher could be part of a terrorism conspiracy is difficult. Soon after Sher’s arrest early Thursday, a YouTube clip of him awkwardly singing and dancing across a Montreal stage for the reality show aired around the world.

But those who study or investigate what police common refer to as “homegrown terrorism” caution against dismissing cases that appear too absurd to be true. “On the surface, it appears completely counterintuitive. It appears these people have bought into the Canadian or Western dream, or whatever you call it,” said Michael King, a McGill University PhD student researching the psychology of radicalization. “But for me, as a psychologist anyway researching this, it almost makes sense, because there seems to be a personality characteristic that predisposes people to radicalize — and that is sensation-seeking.”



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Who am I?

I am a law enforcement professional with over 35 years experience in both sworn and civilian positions. I have service in 3 different countries in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

My principal areas of expertise are: (1) Intelligence, (2) Training and Development, (3) Knowledge Management, and (4) Administration/Supervision.

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