This is going to be an increasingly common feature of life in the West. The U.S., Britain and other countries have all expressed concern about Muslims returning home after waging jihad in Syria. One or more of them are going to use their training back home eventually. It never seems to occur to officials that perhaps after waging jihad terror elsewhere they shouldn’t be allowed to return.
“CSIS tracking 80 Canadians who came home after going abroad for ‘terrorist purposes,’” by Douglas Quan for Postmedia News, March 23:
Intelligence officials are aware of about 80 Canadians who have returned home after going overseas for “terrorist purposes,” according to speaking notes prepared for the director of the nation’s spy agency.
The document obtained by Postmedia News does not offer explicit information about their activities, though it makes it clear that not all were involved in combat. While some individuals may have engaged in paramilitary activities, others are believed to have studied in extremist Islamic schools or provided logistical or fundraising support. Others never achieved their goals and simply returned home.
The so-called “foreign fighter” phenomenon has become a growing concern for the intelligence community, stoking fears that individuals could return to Canada more radicalized than when they left.
If they hadn’t already been “radicalized,” they wouldn’t have gone in the first place.
“Most troubling, if they participate in a foreign conflict or train with a terrorist group, they might return with certain operational skills that can be deployed themselves or taught to fellow Canadian extremists,” the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said in its annual report released earlier this year.
The 80 Canadians on CSIS’s radar were referenced in speaking notes prepared for the agency’s director, Michel Coulombe, ahead of his Feb. 3 appearance before the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. Postmedia News obtained a copy of the notes through access-to-information legislation.
During the hearing, Coulombe testified that the agency was aware of more than 130 Canadians abroad who were believed to be supporting extremist activities. And he expressed concerns about the threat such individuals posed if they return home.
However, a review of Coulombe’s testimony shows no mention of the 80 individuals, who, according to his speaking notes, had returned to Canadian soil.
The director’s speaking notes do not indicate where they travelled or when. Coulombe did tell the committee that of the 130 Canadians who were still abroad, about 30 were in Syria. Other destinations included Somalia, Yemen and North and East Africa, according to the speaking notes.
It is not clear what specific action authorities have taken against those individuals who have returned to Canada. But Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior intelligence officer with CSIS, said Sunday that the 80 individuals have to be considered “very high risk” and are likely being closely watched.
“We don’t know their state of mind. … No one goes to a war zone without being affected, especially if they were exposed to a long period of indoctrination,” he said.
CSIS spokeswoman Tahera Mufti confirmed Sunday in a statement that “CSIS is aware of Canadians who have returned to Canada after having been abroad for terrorist purposes.” She added that the agency “actively investigates such individuals and is coordinating with the RCMP in order to keep Canadians safe.”…