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

Ucluelet releases COVID-19 Recovery Plan

Part of the recovery plan involves deploying three district staff as COVID-19 Community Monitors

Tofino mayor urges “kindness” as tourism reopens

“Health and safety matters to everyone.”

Resorts in Tofino and Ucluelet prepare to reopen in June

“We need to get the tourist economy in our communities back up and running.”

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve plans limited reopening on June 4

The Park Reserve shut down on March 18 to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Pacific Rim Hospice Society gifting free wellness “check-ins” to all West Coast residents

“This pandemic has led to a lot of isolation and it’s helpful for anybody just to have a soundboard.”

Vancouver Island bride held wedding in seniors home so dying stepdad could walk her down aisle

Ceremony held amidst pandemic in order to fulfill bride’s wish to have stepdad give her away

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

COVID-19 cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a B.C. mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Yukon ready to lift COVID travel restrictions with B.C. in July: premier

Premier Sandy Silver says the territory’s health-care system can cope with the virus.

‘It is dire:’ Study finds B.C. logging continues on critical caribou habitat

The federal Species At Risk Act requires provinces to identify critical habitat for caribou herds

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Telegraph Cove Resort will open June 1 to self-contained campers only

Washrooms, showers and all other amenities will remain closed for now

Most Read