Terrorists Xristos Katsiroubas and Ali Medlej die in attack on Algerian gas plant that kills 70 people
Xristos Katsiroubas, left, and Ali Medlej.
There are no straightforward answers when it comes to understanding what led Xristos Katsiroubas and Ali Medlej to abandon their lives in London, Ont., to join an Al-Qaida-linked militant group that attacked and took hostages at an Algerian gas plant.
The two boys have been described recently as average, everyday-type Canadians. That seemed to be the case right up until shortly before they flew overseas and died in the Algerian attack in January.
CBC News reported on Wednesday that a third schoolmate had travelled with the pair to North Africa and was jailed shortly before his cohorts died participating in the attack in Algeria.
Aaron Yoon was another average Canuck, a boy of Korean descent who was quiet and friendly and converted to Islam in his final year of high school.
Another run-of-the-mill Canadian who somehow ended up engaged in extremism of the worst kind. As Christie Blatchford points out, the London boys are not the first to surrender to the lure.
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Three former University of Manitoba students, two of them Canadian, sparked an international search after flying to Pakistan in 2007 and disappearing. Another Canadian is suspected in the 2012 bombing of a Bulgarian bus.
And then there was the Toronto 18, a group that had the means to detonate explosives, the plans to do it and had already held a training session when they were arrested.
“Like the nice lads from London, they too were on the face of it good Canadian boys,” Blatchford writes. “They picked Christmas for the date of their training camp because they were Canadian kids who knew the country shuts down at that time of year. One worked at a Canadian Tire gas bar. They went for coffee at Tim Hortons.”
In fact, CBC News reported earlier this month that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) have between 50 and 60 Canadians under surveillance because of alleged ties to terrorism.
So the question is how. How does this keep happening? How do overseas extremists manage to court kids who could otherwise attend the same university as you, play at the same curling club or stop at the same coffee shop?
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In 2011, CSIS published an intelligence report on radicalization in Canada. The report was recently alluded to in a message by CSIS director Richard Fadden, who stated that reasons vary for each individual, but that each shares some common elements.