As Algonquin’s name appears across national media in connection with the arrest of Algonquin graduate Awso Peshdary, the college is stressing that it continues to work with law enforcement agencies on the case.
In an interview with the Times, vice president of communications Doug Wotherspoon answered yes when asked to confirm whether the college is working with the RCMP regarding the Peshdary case.
“We work hand-in-hand with law enforcement on a whole host of different issues when required and have a good working relationship with them,” Wotherspoon said.
Jensen relayed this message to Algonquin’s faculty and staff.
“For those who choose to incite hatred,” she wrote in an email Feb. 4, “we rely on Canadian law and the support of law enforcement.”
The letter was sent in the wake of the arrest of Awso Peshdary, a 25-year-old 2014 graduate of the social service worker program. He has been charged with participation and activity in a terrorist group, and made a court appearance Tuesday, Feb. 3.
Peshdary was one of two former Algonquin students charged by the RCMP this week along with Khadar Khalib, a 23-year-old former business student who has been charged in absentia with terrorism-related offences because he is now believed to be fighting in the Middle East with the Islamic State.
The RCMP allege that Peshdary helped to recruit jihadists for the Islamic State and finance their travel to Syria.
The charges have not been proven in court.
Vicky Green, the coordinator of the social service worker program at the college which Peshdary attended, declined to speak to the Times. She referred the paper to Jane Trakalo, chair of community studies, who also declined to be interviewed.
According to a Feb. 5 story in in the Ottawa Citizen, a former student who knew Peshdary from the Muslim Students Association at Algonquin said that he showed frustration with the current events in Afghanistan and Syria.
“He was very sympathetic to any situation like Afghanistan,” the student told the Citizen in its Feb. 5 issue. “He was very opposed to the Americans and Canadians going into the country.” Peshdary, he said, supported military and religious opposition to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and the west’s involvement in the Middle East.
Jensen ensured that Algonquin relies on a set of policies and rules that reflect college and Canadian values, and have been developed to ensure fairness and due process.
“Like all colleges and universities in Canada, we are faced with the challenge of radicalization in all its forms,” president Cheryl Jensen told students in an email sent on Feb. 4. “Here at the college, we work each day to create a place where dialogue is respectful, tolerant, and diverse, both inside and outside the classroom.”
With files from Trevor Alain