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Telling his dad and mom he was flying to Turkey for 2 weeks, Mohamed Ali left Canada in April 2014 to affix the so-called Islamic State.
“I traded the snow for the desert sand,” he wrote on social media after his arrival in Syria.
Four years later, ISIS is collapsing in Syria and Iraq and Canadian officers are bracing for the attainable return of international fighters like Ali — if he’s nonetheless alive — in addition to their wives and kids. Some have already come again.
Canada’s technique for managing their return is detailed in paperwork obtained solely by Global News that time to the hurdles police face in international fighter investigations, and the choice approaches they’re making an attempt as a result of prison costs have proved so difficult.
Disclosed below the Access to Information Act, the paperwork are a stark evaluation of the prospects that former ISIS fighters like Ali will ever face prison costs upon their return to Canada, saying terrorism investigations are among the many most tough the RCMP conducts.
“Often, they require evidence of an individual’s activity in foreign conflict zones, or rely on information provided by partners that we are not authorized to disclose in court,” in line with the paperwork. “The RCMP also faces challenges in collecting digital evidence, including access to encrypted communications.”
Calling terrorism “complex and resource intensive,” the paperwork warning that “there may not be sufficient evidence for charges” and say the fallback is to “mitigate the threat through efforts outside the criminal justice system.”
The authorities estimates that about 190 Canadian extremists are presently energetic in terrorist teams abroad, largely in Syria and Iraq. An further 60 have returned, and police are bracing for an additional wave of returnees over the following one to a few months.
Few who left to affix ISIS have been charged upon their return, a problem that has been raised repeatedly within the House of Commons, with the Conservatives accusing the Liberals of greeting returning ISIS members with “group-hug sessions.”
On Friday, the subject got here up once more in Question Period over a Toronto-area man’s confession to a U.S. reporter that he had participated in executions whereas serving with ISIS in Syria. He denied to Global News he had killed anybody.
WATCH: Question Period erupts over NYT podcast that includes Canadian ISIS recruit
While the federal government has offered few particulars about how it’s coping with “returnees,” the RCMP paperwork reveal the usual working procedures which have been put in place, and underscore what police have been saying quietly for a while: that they’re struggling to cost returning Canadians over their involvement in terrorism in international locations like Syria, forcing them to have a look at different choices.
Unlike the United Kingdom, which has revoked the citizenship of ISIS fighters so they can’t return, Canadians who go overseas to commit terrorism have a “right to return,” in line with a Briefing Note ready for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
“Therefore, even if a Canadian engaged in terrorist activity abroad, the government must facilitate their return to Canada,” mentioned the doc obtained by Global News.
Because Canada has cancelled the passports of identified international fighters, they will’t come again with out first going to a Canadian diplomatic publish, which serves as an early warning system for the RCMP.
The return of terrorists is managed by a gaggle inside authorities known as the High Risk Returnee Interdepartmental Taskforce, which works with the RCMP’s National Security Joint Operations Centre, the briefing notice says.
The process drive is made up of Global Affairs Canada, RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada Border Services Agency, Passport Canada, Public Safety Canada and Transport Canada.
Once the RCMP turns into conscious a international fighter is getting ready to return again to Canada, the duty drive meets to debate what measures are wanted to manage the return, the minister’s briefing notice says.
“The taskforce allows us to collectively identify what measures can mitigate the threat these individuals may pose during their return to Canada,” an RCMP doc says. “This could include sending officers overseas to collect evidence before they depart, or their detention by police upon arrival in Canada.” The RCMP additionally “may use undercover officers to engage with the HRT [High Risk Traveler] to collect evidence, or monitor them during their flight home.”
When their flight lands in Canada, the returnees are subjected to secondary customs screening and presumably police detention.
“HRRs [High Risk Returnees] can pose a significant threat to the national security of Canada,” an RCMP doc mentioned.
But it additionally listed the challenges concerned in terrorism investigations: the “international nature of activities and targets”; “sharing information among partner agencies”; the “conundrum” of turning intelligence into proof; and the fact that some terrorists “do not fear prosecution or death.”
Assuming prison costs will not be attainable, police could attempt to acquire a peace bond from the courts to limit their behaviour and restrict their skill to go surfing.
But typically the most effective the RCMP can do is ship an intervention staff. The intervention groups can “engage with the returnee and the returnee’s family to open up dialogue with the individual and to help support the returnee’s disengagement from their radical ideology and past behavior,” it mentioned.
“Moving forward, we must continue to work to identify how to best address returnees,” learn the briefing notice to the minister. “While they may have engaged in terrorism abroad and broken the law, not all returnees continue to post [sic] a threat — they may now be disillusioned with the cause.”
“The government of Canada must focus its investigative resources on those that continue to post [sic] a threat to Canada, and leverage efforts such as CRV [Countering Radicalization to Violence] to work with those who may no longer be interested in violence.”
Foreign fighter researcher Professor Amarnath Amarasingam mentioned 21 Canadians who had gone to Syria and Iraq have been identified to have died and 16 had come again — a quantity that features these turned again in international locations like Turkey earlier than they ever made it to a battle zone.
Only two to a few returnees really served in ISIS, he mentioned. “Another six to seven joined other militant and rebel groups in Syria, and the remainder got caught on their way into Syria and didn’t even cross over,” mentioned Amarasingam, a Senior Research Fellow on the Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
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Note: « Previously Published on: 2018-05-14 07:30:33, as ‘EXCLUSIVE: Canada’s plan for managing the return of ISIS fighters revealed in paperwork – National