Driver troubled, misguided, says local Muslim leader


Advertise with us

A veterans’ advocate is appalled that an Islamic State sympathizer in Winnipeg says Canadian police officers and soldiers deserve to be attacked in their home country.

Read this article for free:


Already have an account? Log in here »

To continue reading, please subscribe:

Monthly Digital Subscription

$4.75 per week*

  • Enjoy unlimited reading on
  • Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
  • Access News Break, our award-winning app
  • Play interactive puzzles

*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/06/2015 (2896 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A veterans’ advocate is appalled that an Islamic State sympathizer in Winnipeg says Canadian police officers and soldiers deserve to be attacked in their home country.

The comments by Aaron Driver are “unconscionable” and society must take a stand against them, said Michael Blais, the president and founder of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy group.

“It’s very concerning, particularly for those who are serving today,” he said.

FACEBOOK / CHRISD.CA Aaron Daniel Driver.

Driver said he believes last year’s deadly Parliament Hill shooting and other attacks against police officers are justified.

“These are attacks on police officers and these are attacks on soldiers,” Driver said in an interview with CBC Wednesday. “These are people who are part of the system. It’s entirely different. It’s not attacking innocents, people who are just going about their daily lives. If a country goes to war with another country or another people or another community, I think that they have to be prepared for things like that to happen, and when it does happen, they shouldn’t act surprised. They had it coming to them. They deserved it.”

Blais is concerned such public comments could inspire other people to endanger Canadian military and police.

“Comments like that on Twitter or social media, even though he may not consider them a threat, may motivate others to adopt a position such as that – others who have not been identified by the RCMP or CSIS and others who do have the means to carry this out.”

Andrea Charron, assistant professor and deputy director at University of Manitoba’s Centre for Defence and Security Studies, said soldiers and police in non-combat roles are never justifiable targets.

“Now if Mr. Driver is in a uniform in a combat zone and kills a soldier in uniform who is armed and who is in actively engaged in combat, the Geneva Conventions would say that is a militarily necessary target,” Charron wrote in an email. “But unarmed at a memorial, or walking on a base — never.”

Driver did not return calls for comment and neither did his lawyer. A woman who answered the phone at Driver’s home said Driver had been advised not to speak publicly.

Driver, a 23-year-old Winnipeg man and IS sympathizer, is out on bail after being detained on suspicion of contributing to terrorist activity. He grew up in a Christian, military family that moved around Ontario and the Prairies, and he converted to Islam as a teen. But he said Muslims do not belong in the West.

After hearing Driver’s justification for his beliefs, a leader in Manitoba’s Muslim community is encouraging Driver to seek guidance from local faith-based organizations.

Islamic Social Services Association president Shahina Siddiqui said Aaron Driver’s comments suggest he is a “troubled youth” who is talking about issues he doesn’t fully understand.

“This youth is misguided, because you cannot justify, under any circumstance, the taking of innocent life or indulging in violence for any cause or reason,” Siddiqui said.

“I’m not denying that yes, there are injustices all over the world and people are dying in war and conflict and whatnot, but the way to help them is not by resorting to violence yourself.

“I just hope that this young man would reach out to us, because we would definitely want to help.”

She denounced Driver’s views but said it’s his democratic freedom to hold them.

“To me, having radical views is not the issue – it’s the acting on it,” she said. “There is a balance that has to be maintained between one’s right to an opinion or beliefs or thoughts and security, that’s where the issue is. We can’t police people’s thoughts; that’s not democracy.”

Driver spent eight days in jail after police arrested him June 4 and raided the Charleswood home where he rents a room, seizing his computer equipment. He has not been charged with any crime and did not consent to being bound by a peace bond typically used to help police keep tabs on high-risk sex offenders. Instead, he is barred from using computers, was forced to surrender his passport and must follow several strict court-imposed conditions, including a rare, non-specific order to undergo religious counselling.

In arguing for the peace bond, justice officials alleged Driver may “participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, the activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of a terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity.”

But in the CBC interview, Driver said Canadians should not consider him a threat.

A national security expert doesn’t think so, either.

Wesley Wark, a visiting professor at University of Ottawa’s graduate school of public and international affairs, said he believes the 23-year-old has “no capacity to incite anyone, and there’s no evidence presented that that’s really what he’s trying to do,” particularly in light of his recent comments.

“At the end of the day, the more he talks, probably the less people will take him seriously,” Wark said. “This is an illustration for the argument that sometimes it’s better to air these kinds of radical views so they can be exposed for the nonsense they are as opposed to letting them develop in the dark.”

Manitoba Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh was unavailable to comment on this issue.

– With files from Mike McIntyre

Katie May

Katie May

Katie May is a general-assignment reporter for the Free Press.


Updated on Wednesday, June 24, 2015 2:47 PM CDT: Corrects typo in fourth paragraph.

Report Error Submit a Tip


Advertise With Us