Cree jihadist: How a boy from a Saskatchewan reserve came to embrace Islamist extremism
Stewart Bell | Feb 22, 2013 9:06 PM ET | Last Updated: Feb 23, 2013 4:24 PM ET
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A Cree who wears a traditional coonskin cap he made himself, Dawood is a member of the James Smith First Nation in Saskatchewan. He is also a strident advocate of armed jihad.
At Toronto mosques, he has handed out hundreds of DVDs of lectures by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric who urged his followers to fight the “evil” West — until a Hellfire missile found him in Yemen.
“For us as Muslims, our religion teaches that we’re brothers and sisters,” said Dawood, 33, who said he feared repercussions if his last name was published. “You have to stand up for your brothers and sisters, you have to defend them.”
Young, Canadian-born and online, Dawood is the embodiment of the Islamist extremists the government has called a top national security concern. He is also a newcomer to his faith, having converted to Islam less than five years ago, when he was drunk and suicidal.
Even the Muslim leader who converted Dawood said he disagreed with his views on violence. “He’s unstable,” said Muhammad Robert Heft. “The bottom line with Dawood is he doesn’t know very much about the religion.” He said Dawood relied too much on the Internet. “He follows Mufti Yahoo or Sheikh Google. I think with him it’s got to do more with wanting attention.”
But attention-seeking fanatics who sanctify violence with half-baked scripture can be dangerous. Several members of the Toronto 18 terrorist group that planned attacks in Southern Ontario in 2006 were converts. Soon after he converted, William Plotnikov, a Toronto boxer and Seneca College student, left Canada to join an Islamist rebel group in the Caucuses. Russian security forces shot him dead last July.