Navaid Aziz is the imam and the Director of Social and Religious Affairs of the Islamic Information Society of Calgary, Alberta.
A graduate of the Islamic University of Madinah, Saudi Arabia Aziz also serves as an instructor with AlMaghrib Institute. Because of his communal position he came to know personally some of the Calgarians who joined the Islamic State (aka IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Caliphate) and other Islamic terrorist groups before they left Canada. More on this at the February issue of Walrus magazine (click HERE).
In a recent interview with British TRT, Navaid Aziz criticized the use of informants by the Canadian security agencies RCMP and CSIS. Aziz argued that the use of informants creates mistrust and reluctance to cooperate with the authorities. The effective alternative, according to Aziz, is to rely on the Muslim community in voluntarily providing the information needed about extremists and deradicalizing them before they become terrorists.
Aziz also implied that the Western “foreign policy” is the real cause for terrorism in the Middle East warning that “groups like ISIS are very appealing (for Muslims) because their narrative is: we’re making positive change. We’re going to take down the establishment”. He added that this trend is supported by the fact the election of Donald trump to the President of the US and the Brexit (The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union are perceived as anti-Muslim developments.
The following are excerpts from Navaid Aziz’s interview (the video was published on YouTube on December 6, 2016):
“But I think in other experiences and I mean just one from the United Kingdom here where governments have tried to reach out to Muslim community, to leaders and so on, to involve them in discussion, to come up with policies and plans, but the reality is slightly different, that, you know, fine words are spoken around the government committee room. But the reality at the mosque at the supermarket at places of work is a bit different. That’s a challenge for everyone isn’t it?”
“So I can speak on behalf of Calgary and what’s worked well in Calgary, and what we’ve noticed over there is that rather than using an infrastructure that is based upon you know informants and intelligence gathering from that perspective, what they focus on is their own appreciative reading and what we mean by that is how well does the Calgary Police do their job? So they have you know a rating of like 95 percent or higher which is one of the highest in the world and what they’ve done over the year is such a strong report with the community is that whenever there is a threat, they’ll naturally volunteer that information because they have that report already. Whereas in other communities because that report isn’t there and the you know approval ratings aren’t as high, they have to rely on getting informants and now in terms of what’s actually going on in the Muslim community in these two communities, you know if you look at Calvary and other communities, with that natural report with the police and law enforcement, people are very supportive and they work together, whereas when they’re at all opposing ends and they haven’t interacted in the non-conflict or non-conflicting environment, no one wants to deal with law enforcement. No one wants to deal with government and that’s what ends up happening.
“So I think if law enforcement and government spent more time building report with communities they would naturally get the information that is required by rather then the need to hire informants and then having to verify that information… That’s what we want to try to push is that you know this infrastructure of gathering informants does not work…
“Something that often gets neglected in you know come to radicalization strategies is the importance of looking at foreign policy that there’s a large amount of frustration in these youth that do travel overseas and no one ever wants to address the elephant in the room that hey, perhaps our for foreign policy is what’s causing these issues. So that’s one element of it.
“The second element of it is what we’ve learned from Brexit it and Donald Trump getting to power is that people no longer have faith in the establishment anymore. They [Muslims] no longer trust their government that are in play. So when we want to look for positive change in the world particularly in the realm of foreign policy groups like ISIS are very appealing [for Muslims] because their narrative is we’re making positive change. We’re going to take down the establishment you know one step at a time.”