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Jewish group wants investigation into online posts following Ottawa terror arrest

A Canadian Jewish organization wants police to investigate Facebook posts allegedly made by the father of a teenage terror suspect arrested in Ottawa.

On Facebook, a user whose name and photo match the father of the youth arrested by RCMP on Friday night posted several comments about Jews and Israelis.

According to the Facebook translation of the Arabic-language posts, they refer to Zionists and Jews in a derogatory manner, while one says to get rid of all Israelis.

The posts were made in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that Israeli officials say killed more than 1,200, and the subsequent conflict in Gaza.

Global News is not repeating the Facebook posts in order to avoid identifying the son, who cannot be named because he is a minor.

Asked to confirm the Facebook page was his, the youth’s father said his lawyer had advised him not to talk to reporters. The posts were subsequently taken down.

He did not respond to questions about the specific posts, and whether they may have contributed to his son’s alleged targeting of Jews.

In an interview Saturday, the father told Global News the Iraqi family had warned the youth to steer clear of extremists, and had 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 person and he said, ‘Dad, I’m sorry.”

The youth was charged on Saturday with two terrorism offenses over what police allege was a plot to attack Ottawa’s Jewish community.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said it was seeking a police investigation into the social media posts amid a spike in anti-semitism.

“Those Facebook posts from the father of the accused appear to be incitement to violence and we expect law enforcement to investigate this additional hatred targeting the Jewish community,” said CIJA spokesperson Cory Hann.

“It’s another example of anti-Zionism being antisemitism.”

Ottawa Police could not be reached to respond to whether it would open an investigation. The police force posted a message on X on Sunday morning, asking members of the public to report hate crimes.

The Jewish Federation of Ottawa said in a community announcement that “police continue to encourage vigilance,” and asked for “heightened awareness and diligence.”

Following the youth’s arrest, the RCMP said they had witnessed a “concerning trend” of terrorists using the internet to recruit youths.

The RCMP asked parents to be on the lookout for the warning signs of radicalization to violence, such as “dehumanization of others.”

Prof. Casey Babb said the alleged plot was not surprising, given the unprecedented surge in anti-semitism in Canada and around the world since Oct. 7.

“When it comes to extremism and terrorism, anti-semitism is often a foundational ideology and worldview that influences people’s behaviour and decision-making,” said Babb, an instructor at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs and a fellow with the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

He speculated the youth may have been influenced by online content, which ranges from anti-Zionist and anti-semitic to “instructional information on carrying out attacks.”

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