Our colleague in Ottawa, David B. Harris, of INSIGNIS Research, Inc., noted counterterrorism columnist and former Canadian Intelligence Security Service official, sent us breaking news about the Al-Huda Canadian Islamic Institute. No sooner than we posted on the extremist Al-Huda School in Pakistan that allegedly indoctrinated San Bernardino jihadi Tashfeen Malik then the CBC reported this story. 4 female students who went to Syria to join ISIS attended Mississauga school Al-Huda Islamic Institute’s sister school in Pakistan connected to mass shooting in California.
The details of the CBC News breaking report were:
A girl and three young women left Canada to join ISIS in Syria after studying at the Al-Huda Islamic Institute in Mississauga, Ont. — a school whose sister institution in Pakistan is now connected to the mass shooting in California. See February 25, 2015 CBC News report, ISIS recruiter in Edmonton enlists Canadian woman to join fight in Syria.
It’s unclear exactly when the Canadian students travelled overseas, but sources have confirmed they all left in the last two years after attending the school founded by controversial female Islamic scholar Dr. Farhat Hashmi.
Hashmi’s ultra-conservative teachings in lectures and online have faced criticism for promoting an extreme wifely subservience to a husband.
The school’s founder, however, is not a Canadian resident, despite several media reports to the contrary, sources told CBC News. Hashmi has not been in Canada for three years, those sources said.
School accredited by Ontario
Al-Huda’s Mississauga campus opened in 2004. It’s accredited by the Ontario Ministry of Education as a private school, where roughly 160 students in kindergarten to Grade 6 attend classes every day.
But in the evenings and on weekends, teenagers and adults can take seminars there. It’s those classes the four Canadians, who ranged in age from 16 to early 20s, took in recent years before leaving for Syria.
The oldest attended for three months in 2012.
She’s been living in Syria since the summer of 2014, her sister told CBC News. The woman and her family are not identified in this story, because of concerns about their security.
“It’s really scary and it’s really dangerous — and if she gets caught she will get killed,” the sister said.
More than 160 kindergarten to Grade 6 students attend the Mississauga school every day. On evenings and weekends, the school offers adult classes.
Security officials intercepted the other three Canadians in Turkey after they disappeared in July 2014, according to RCMP.
The teens were taken into custody and brought back to Canada.
It’s still unclear how those teens and the other Canadian woman became connected to ISIS and radicalized.
Tashfeen Malik, one of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters, attended classes six days a week for more than a year at Al-Huda’s Pakistan campus, a school spokeswoman told The Associated Press. But it is not known how, where or by whom she was radicalized.
It’s also unclear how much contact, if any, the teens or women would have had with Hashmi.
But the founder of the school — and the one like it in Pakistan — regularly delivers lectures by audio link to the Mississauga campus, CBC has learned. Lectures can also be found through Hashmi’s website.
School ‘deeply disturbed’ by allegations
RCMP officers recently visited the Mississauga school to ask about the former students.
Al-Huda’s operations manager told CBC News that the school would help with the investigation in any way possible.
“This is the first that we are learning of such allegations and [we] are as deeply disturbed as anyone,” Imraq Haq said in a statement. “We are very clear that terrorism is against Islamic teachings … and we emphasize that it is both a civic and religious duty to help keep Canada, and the world, safe from violent extremist ideologies.”
It would appear that Canadian RCMP was caught flat footed by disclosures about the radical Islamic indoctrination at the Al-Huda girls and women’s program at the Mississauga, Ontario Institutte that may have influenced ISIS recruitment of three girls and a woman who were students. At the center of the controversy is the Al-Huda Institute founder Pakistani Dr. Farhat Hashmi and the late Tashfeen Malik who attended a similar institute in Multan, Pakistan. Malik left the Al-Huda program before finishing. She subsequently returned to California in July 2014 as the fiancée of Syed Rizwan Farooq. They died in a blaze of police gunfire after perpetrating a wanton Jihad attack equipped with assault weapons killing 14 and injuring 21 of her husband’s colleagues at a December 2nd Christmas gathering in San Bernardino, California.