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

PHOTOS: Harrison Hot Springs Resort reopens

Reopening both celebrated and sombre as Harrison opens up again

Fraser River freshet peak is coming soon

Predictions for 2020 by River Forecast Centre has the freshet peak at the Mission gauge for June 4-5

VIDEO: Fraser Valley Bandits super fan celebrates 100th birthday

Abbotsford resident Gladys Sautter surprised by Bandits representatives on big day

Health Care Foundation proceeds with plans for Grand Gala

Second annual fundraiser supports hospitals in eastern Fraser Valley

FVRD flooding evacuation alerts in effect

Unprotected areas affected include parts of Morris Valley Road and Lougheed Highway

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

Two more COVID-19 cases reported by Langley long term care facility

One resident, one staffer have tested positive for the coronavirus

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Suspect sought in alleged assault, hate crime on Metro Vancouver bus: transit police

The woman then allegedly punched the teenager in the head multiple times

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Most Read