A Canadian Jewish organization wants police to investigate Facebook posts allegedly made by the father of a teenage terrorism suspect arrested in Ottawa.
On Facebook, a user whose name and photo match the father of the young man arrested Friday evening by the RCMP posted several comments about Jews and Israelis.
According to Facebook’s translation of the Arabic posts, they refer to Zionists and Jews in a derogatory manner, while one says to get rid of all Israelis.
The messages were posted following the October 7 Hamas attack, which Israeli officials say killed more than 1,200 people, and the ensuing conflict in Gaza.
Global News is not repeating Facebook posts to avoid identifying the son, who cannot be named because he is a minor.
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When asked to confirm that the Facebook page was indeed his, the youth’s father said his lawyer had advised him not to speak to journalists. The positions were later eliminated.
He did not respond to questions about those specific messages, or whether they might have contributed to his son’s alleged targeting of Jews.
In an interview Saturday, the father told Global News the Iraqi family warned the youth to stay away from extremists and sent him to sessions with an imam.
He said when he saw his son in court: “I told him I told you to stay away from any extremist people and he said, ‘Dad, I’m sorry.’
The youth was charged Saturday with two terrorism offenses for what police say was a plot to attack Ottawa’s Jewish community.
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The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs said it was seeking a police investigation into the social media posts amid rising anti-Semitism.
“These Facebook posts by the accused’s father appear to be an incitement to violence and we expect law enforcement to investigate this additional hatred aimed at the Jewish community,” said CIJA spokesperson, Cory Hann.
“This is another example of anti-Zionism being anti-Semitism.”
It was not possible to contact Ottawa police to see if they would open an investigation. Police posted a message on X on Sunday morning, asking members of the public to report hate crimes.
The Ottawa Jewish Federation said in a community statement that “police continue to encourage vigilance” and called for “increased awareness and diligence.”
Following the youth’s arrest, RCMP said they had witnessed a “disturbing trend” of terrorists using the Internet to recruit youth.
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The RCMP have asked parents to be on the lookout for warning signs of radicalization leading to violence, such as the “dehumanization of others.”
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“I think it’s important to understand that hateful speech leads to hateful actions,” said Noah Shack, vice-president of anti-semitism and hate at the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
“And it’s really important that we understand that no one wakes up one day and decides to engage in terrorist activity. This is something that is the product of hatred.
“And it’s the same hatred that is expressed in words that these people are trying to express through horrible actions, through horrible violence. And that’s something we need to be vigilant about.
Professor Casey Babb said the alleged plot was not surprising, given the unprecedented rise in anti-Semitism in Canada and around the world since October 7.
“When it comes to extremism and terrorism, anti-Semitism is often a core ideology and worldview that influences people’s behavior and decision-making,” said Babb, an instructor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and a member of the Institute for National. Security studies in Tel Aviv.
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He speculated that young people may have been influenced by online content, which ranges from anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic to “educational information on carrying out attacks.”
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