Canada is seeking to arrest 80 people who have returned there after taking part in suspected terrorism-related activities, a Canadian minister has said. These people are suspected of joining militant groups in Iraq and Syria.
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said that in early 2014, at least 130 people with Canadian connections – including citizenship or residency – were suspected of a wide range of terrorism-related activities abroad.
“Some have died, some remain abroad. We know of about 80 who have returned to Canada,” Blaney told parliament’s public safety committee. He said these individuals posed a serious threat.
“I can confirm … that as we speak, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating these individuals and will seek to put them behind bars,” he said.
Blaney stopped short of giving more details.
But Michel Coulombe, head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spy agency, said some had been involved in fund-raising and propaganda.
“I don’t want people to believe that we have 80 returnees who were hard fighters in Iraq and Syria, because that is not the picture we have at the moment, although we have some of them,” he told the committee.
Canadian authorities have been trying to find out the exact number of Canadian men travelling abroad to join the Islamic State, whose militants have seized many parts of Iraq and Syria since June.
Canada’s lawmakers have approved a government plan on Tuesday to send six fighter jets to join the international campaign against the extremist group in Iraq.