Terror Suspects Now Anti-Radicalization Consultants

El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djermane
El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djermane (Photo: social media)

A young couple who were recently acquitted of terrorism charges in Canada are now working for a publicly-funded deradicalization agency.

Sabrine Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali, both 21, were charged with attempting to leave Canada to join a terrorist group and  possession of an explosive substance in April 2015. When police searched their shared apartment they found a handwritten bomb recipe copied down by Djermane.

Jamali was convicted of possessing  explosive substances while Djermane was acquitted on both counts. Jamali was sentenced to time already served while in custody.

The crown is appealing Djermane’s acquittal.

Djermane’s sisters tipped off the police that she was radicalized in 2015. The parents of both Djermane and Jamali contacted the Center for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence and asked for help. The center prepared deradicalization programs for the couple to undertake while in prison.

The couple will work three days a week at the center, as part of a reintegration strategy. That strategy will see them spend half a day undergoing psychological evaluations and follow-up sessions, and the other have preparing preventative strategies for others.

Some have doubts about using former radicals so soon after their acquittal.

“This couple, regardless of what you think of the state of the court case, are in a state of disengagement, meaning they’re not actively seeking to join the Islamic State, or plan a terrorist attack or whatever,” Phil Gurski, a former agent with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service told The Star. “Disengagement is not de-radicalization. The fact that you’re not doing something about it doesn’t mean you’re not still thinking about it.”

“I’m going to give the centre credit that they’ve done their homework and they’ve vetted these people properly,” Gurski added . “The problem is that all it takes is one high-profile failure. If you go with somebody and six months from now they blow something up or something happens and it turns out that they were part of the centre . . . and it goes south, then all the good they’ve done goes out the window.”

 

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Elliot Friedland
Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.