Chapter 1 – Homegrown Terrorist Radicalization: The Toronto 18 in Comparative Perspectives


  • Lorne L. Dawson
  • Amarnath Amarasingam


Canadian concern with the domestic threat of religious terrorism came of age with the arrest of the members of the Toronto 18 in 2006. This chapter seeks to increase our understanding of this case by placing it in comparative perspective in three ways. First, by arguing that the Toronto 18 represents one of the purest instances of so-called “homegrown terrorism.” Second, by comparing the data available on the ten adults convicted with the data available on similar terrorists in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Findings are examined for age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, education, occupations, criminality, mental health, and family and religious background. Third, insights from two recent and comprehensive theories of the process of radicalization, Lorne Dawson’s “social ecology model” and Arie Kruglanski et al.’s “3 N model” are used to make better sense of what happened and why. In the end, however, much remains unclear because we still lack the appropriate data.