No flood of extremist returnees to Canada expected, federal report says

The report says some 190 people with connections to Canada are suspected of terrorist activity abroad

A federal report says there has been no surge of extremist travellers returning to Canada, despite the overseas setbacks suffered by militant forces in Iraq and Syria.

The annual report on the terrorist threat to Canada says no such wave is expected because many potential returnees lack valid travel documents, find themselves on a no-fly list or fear being arrested on Canadian soil.

Others want to continue helping extremist groups abroad, have been captured or have died.

As members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant scatter, the Liberal government has come under pressure to explain what it’s doing to contain any threat from foreign fighters returning to Canada.

The report says some 190 people with connections to Canada are suspected of terrorist activity abroad and, of these, about 60 have returned — numbers that have remained static for several months.

The activities of these Canadians in various countries could involve front-line fighting, training, logistical support, fundraising or studying at extremist-influenced schools.

A “relatively small number” of the 60 people have returned from Turkey, Iraq or Syria, the report says.

READ MORE: Reformed right-wing extremist from England loses battle to stay in Canada

READ MORE: Threat of extremism posed by proportional representation overstated: academics

The Conservatives have peppered the government with questions in the House of Commons about ensuring the safety of Canadians — accusing the Liberals of welcoming returnees with open arms.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says Canadian security and intelligence forces are working with their international counterparts to investigate Canadians who travelled overseas to join terrorists. He has repeatedly expressed confidence in the ability of security agencies to manage any threat returnees might pose in Canada.

Though ISIL’s territorial holdings in the Syria-Iraq conflict zone continue to shrink, Canada has not seen a related influx in the number of extremist travellers who have returned to Canada, “nor does it expect to,” the report says.

The group Families Against Violent Extremism has said the Canadians detained by Kurdish authorities in Syrian territory include nine families and more than 10 children, including some who were taken to Syria at young ages and others who were born there.

Overall, Canada’s national terrorism threat level is medium, meaning a violent act of terrorism “could occur,” the report says. That’s the third position on a five-point scale and it’s unchanged from October 2014.

The principal terrorist threat to Canada continues to stem from individuals or groups who are inspired by violent Sunni Islamist ideology and terrorist groups, such as ISIL and al-Qaida, it says.

“Canada also remains concerned about threats posed by those who harbour right-wing extremist views,” the report adds.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nelson Leafs super fan Evelyn Cartlidge passes away

Cartlidge was beloved by the team

Value of new construction in Nelson jumped in 2019

Several large multi-unit projects made the difference

UPDATED: Lead found in Nelson, Creston and Salmo schools

Fourteen water fountains tested for higher than accepted lead content

UPDATED: Man dies in backcountry near Whitewater Ski Resort

The victim was found unresponsive in a tree well Friday

VIDEO: The Library Rock(s)

Friends and fans of the Nelson library packed the Capitol Theatre Friday to celebrate 100 years

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Protesters block B.C. government building entrance to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

Most Read