Terror recruit's former university holds forum on radicalization
Published Friday, September 5, 2014 4:25PM PDT
Last Updated Friday, September 5, 2014 7:55PM PDT
The B.C. university Collin Gordon attended before reportedly travelling to Syria to join a brutal terror group held a forum Thursday to address increasing concerns about home-grown radicals.
Gordon studied at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops in 2008, played on the WolfPack volleyball team, and was considered kind and humble by those who knew him.
In the years that followed, a Twitter account purportedly belonging to him depicts a startling transition.
Posts about Star Wars and sports gave way to increasingly extreme views and support for the Islamic State, a jihadi group that has proclaimed religious authority in parts of Iraq and Syria.
One recent message lauded the beheading of American journalist James Foley as “the perfection of ‘terrorism.’”
Gordon’s apparent radicalization has alarmed some on the TRU campus, leading political studies instructor Derek Cook to organize a forum titled, “How could a TRU business student be fooled into joining the [Islamic State] terrorists?”
According to Cook, the Islamic State uses a combination of social media savvy and bogus religious claims to seduce international recruits.
The terrorists have crafted a narrative about injustices that can be appealing to young westerners, Cook said, but it’s little more than a cover for their brand of neo-fascism.
“It’s a phony story,” he said. “They need to be identified as [liars] so people can distinguish between real religion and phony religion that’s used for political purposes.”
After Gordon’s time at TRU, he returned home to Calgary. It’s believed he left for Syria in 2012 with his brother Gregory after the pair converted to Islam.
It’s unclear what’s happened to them since. Gordon’s Twitter account remains active, however, with a number of recent posts responding to the media coverage about him.
“Over all we hope the stories inspire others to emigrate and join the battle of Good & Evil,” one said.
A federal report released last week revealed Ottawa is aware of more than 130 people with Canadian connections who are suspected of supporting terror-related activities abroad.
It also said the government knows of about 80 such people who have already returned to Canada.
Liberal public safety critic Wayne Easter said the issue requires urgent attention, and has called for hearings on any threat terror fighters could pose after returning to the country.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Kent Molgat and files from The Canadian Press