SUPPORT US

In The Media

Canada’s allies are killing their ISIL fighters, while we put our hope in counselling

by John Ivison (feat. D. Michael Day)

National Post
November 21, 2017

Justin Trudeau batted away claims that the Liberals are soft on terror this week, as the government faces the prospect of more jihadists returning from Syria after the collapse of the Islamic State’s caliphate.

National security agencies are monitoring returning fighters, revoking passports and laying criminal charges, he said in the House of Commons.

Besides, the government has launched the new Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence to help jihadists “let go of that terrorist ideology,” he said.

So sleep easy. Nothing to see here. Hardened extremists can be relied upon to change their minds, if given the “appropriate disengagement and re-integration support.”

Ralph Goodale, the public safety minister, was equally reassuring in the House Tuesday when he was asked by Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel how many returnees are under 24-hour surveillance. Goodale said he couldn’t discuss operational matters, but said security agencies are doing everything possible to keep Canadians safe, while respecting the rights and freedoms of returnees.

“The answer should be all of them,” said Rempel.

But that is unlikely, according to people more familiar with the security situation on the ground than the prime minister.

“You can’t monitor them all — the number of targets are exceeding capacity,” said Ray Boisvert, a former assistant director of intelligence at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. “We have a proper security dilemma that no positive progressive thinking program can easily fix.”

Other governments have been less conflicted about the solution. Rory Stewart, the U.K. minister of international development, said last week the only way of dealing with British citizens who joined ISIL is to kill them. The British have also been active in stripping citizenship from dual nationals and banning them from returning to the U.K.

The U.S. has stated explicitly that its mission is to make sure that any foreign fighters who joined ISIL in Syria, die in Syria. Australia and France have taken a similar approach, with French special forces co-operating with Iraqi units to hunt down and kill French fighters.

Goodale said, “Canada does not engage in death squads.”

The minister said Canada will pursue criminal charges where possible and withdraw passports. Yet only two returnees have been charged with participating in terrorism and the immigration department could not supply information on the number of passports that have been withdrawn.

Canada would struggle to block its citizens from returning to the country, regardless of the crimes they are suspected of having committed. The right of return has been established by the courts, not least in the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik. The Federal Court judged his right to mobility under the Charter was infringed when he was barred from returning to Canada from Sudan, after being wrongfully accused of terrorist connections.

One person familiar with the situation said it is no surprise prosecutions are rare.

He said the RCMP and the Crown want “hard and irrefutable evidence — the perfect case” on terror suspects, which can usually only be obtained by giving up human or signals intelligence sources. 

Once returning jihadists go to ground, CSIS is forced to employ surveillance teams, intelligence officers, analysts, translators and technicians to monitor as many suspects as possible.

“What does that mean? It means I’m spending a ton of resources on what might be yesterday’s threat,” said one source.

“The newly radicalized kid goes uninvestigated for lack of person power.”

The feeling among veteran analysts is that the majority of returning foreign fighters will want to move on with their lives. At the end of 2015, about 180 extremists “with a nexus to Canada” were active in terror groups around the world, according to government figures. Around 60 have returned to Canada.

However, experience suggests hard-core extremists will go to ground until courts advise the security agencies that they have “no current threat” information and resources are redeployed. “Then the danger begins,” said one person with knowledge of the security landscape.

Michael Day, a retired lieutenant-general and former commander of Canada’s special forces, is sceptical about Trudeau’s emphasis on persuading jihadists to let go of the terrorist ideology.

“Having profiled these gents for many, many years, (the idea) that everyone is suitable, let alone able, to be reintegrated is absurd,” he said.

The Conservatives claim the Liberals are welcoming jihadists back to Canada with the promise of reintegration services and that the new security legislation weakens national security agencies at a dangerous time. The latter point is debatable — Bill C-59 retains CSIS’s threat-mitigation capacity and takes away powers it never used.

But the consistent refrain of balancing rights and security will come back to haunt the Liberals, if a returning fighter commits an atrocity in Canada. Let’s remember whose rights are being protected.


Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • Derrick Lau
    commented 2017-11-30 23:23:18 -0500
    It’s a very complex issue and needs to be debated thoroughly in Parliament. Last thing Canada should want is to put itself in a bad legal position like the mess it made with Omar Kadhr’s case.

    However, the Liberal Party’s objectiveness is questionnable given the amount of membership from groups and demographics more sympathetic to terrorists.

    In short, don’t make a decision yet…wait and watch to see what happens.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
UPCOMING EVENTS


No events are scheduled at this time.


SEARCH
EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Global Times: BRICS summit displays the potential of a new future

by Editorial Staff (feat. Swaran Singh), WSFA 12, June 24, 2022

Oil's Dive Won't Bring Any Immediate Relief on Inflation

by Alex Longley, Elizabeth low, and Barbara Powell (feat. Amrita Sen), BNNBloomberg, June 24, 2022

China To Tout Its Governance Model At BRICS Summit

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), The Asean Post, June 23, 2022

Soutien aux victimes d’inconduites sexuelles dans l’armée

by Rude Dejardins (feat. Charlotte Duval-Lantoine), ICI Radio Canada, June 23, 2022

Defence: $4.9 billion for radars against Russian bombs

by Editorial Staff (feat. Rob Huebert), Archynews, June 23, 2022

The Hans Island “Peace” Agreement between Canada, Denmark, and Greenland

by Elin Hofverberg (feat. Natalie Loukavecha), Library of Congress, June 22, 2022

What the future holds for western Canadian oil producers

by Gabriel Friedman (feat. Kevin Birn), Beaumont News, June 22, 2022

At BRICS summit, China sets stage to tout its governance model

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), Aljazeera, June 22, 2022

Crude oil price: there are no changes to the fundamentals

by Faith Maina (feat. Amrita Sen), Invezz, June 22, 2022

Few details as Liberals promise billions to upgrade North American defences

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Andrea Charron), National Newswatch, June 20, 2022

Defence Minister Anita Anand to make announcement on continental defence

by Steven Chase (feat. Rob Huebert), The Globe and Mail, June 19, 2022

Table pancanadienne des politiques

by Alain Gravel (feat. Jean-Christophe Boucher), ICI Radio Canada, June 18, 2022

Russia Ukraine conflict

by Gloria Macarenko (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Radio One, June 17, 2022

New privacy Bill to introduce rules for personal data, AI use

by Shaye Ganam (feat. Tom Keenan), 680 CHED, June 17, 2022


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email