In a bid to stop Canadians from joining terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, the government has introduced measures allowing officials to swiftly revoke passports from suspected extremists.
According to Michel Coulombe, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the number of Canadians who had left for Syria and Iraq had increased 50% this year.
To prevent them from leaving, police have been alerting officials to cancel the passports of “extremist travellers,” but the government source said the current procedure was too time-consuming and that authorities needed to be able to act more speedily.
The killings last October of two Canadian Forces members by suspects espousing Islamist extremist beliefs exposed the country’s “vulnerability” as well as the potential to wage terrorism without conducting mass-casualty attacks, the report said.
In a similar-style attack, two gunmen apparently sympathetic to ISIL opened fire outside a controversial event in Garland, Texas, featuring cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad on Sunday, wounding a guard before being shot dead.
Like Martin Couture-Rouleau, who attacked a soldier in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., one of the Texas suspects had allegedly attempted to travel overseas to join an extremist group but police had arrested him and seized his passport.
The CSIS report mentioned the “threat posed here by frustrated extremists who have been unable to join the fight abroad.” But despite the dangers of grounding would-be foreign fighters, the report said allowing them to leave was not a solution.
“Even if a Canadian extremist does not immediately return, he or she is still a Canadian problem,” Coulombe wrote. “Just as Canada expects other nations to prevent their citizens from harming Canadians and Canadian interests, we too are obliged to deny Canadian extremists the ability to kill and terrorize people of other countries.”
The report states that even though ISIL has dominated the counter-terrorism debate since it seized parts of Syria and Iraq last year, its rival al-Qaida “remains a dangerous terrorist group” and continues to have supporters in Canada. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah is also a threat to Canadians and may attempt to recruit them to carry out attacks, it added.
By contrast, Canada does not appear to be experiencing the far-right violence emerging in Europe. “Right-wing extremist circles appear to be fragmented and primarily pose a threat to public order and not to national security,” the report said.
Source: National Post