Transnational Radicalization, Diaspora Groups, and Within-group Sentiment Pools: Young Tamil and Somali Canadians on the LTTE and al Shabaab

Publié le Mis à jour le

SK Thompson, SM Bucerius – Terrorism and Political Violence, 2019 – Taylor & Francis


In recent years, the Tamil and Somali diasporas have come under intense scrutiny by the media and national security agencies in Canada. This is due to concerns that members of both communities may hold political grievances associated with their respective homelands that could be acted upon by joining or supporting transnational terrorist groups. Drawing on 168 in-depth interviews with youth and young adults in Toronto’s Tamil and Somali diasporas, we provide a comparative analysis of the varying ways that existing sentiment pools can operate to mobilize broad-levels of support for, or vilification of, the framing strategies of the LTTE and al Shabaab, respectively. Our findings show that frames that portray the LTTE in a positive light resonate deeply with the young Tamil-Canadians we interviewed, characterizing a “narrative fidelity” between these frames and the existing sentiment pool. By contrast, there exists considerable disconnect between the framing strategies of al Shabaab, their supporters, and existing sentiment within the Somali diaspora – a divide that illustrates the notion of “framing failure”. We conclude with a discussion of the dynamic nature and inherent malleability of group-level sentiment pools, and highlight why this may be important from a national security standpoint.

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