March 7, 2016 11:08 pm

Dozens suspected of overseas terrorism-related activity back in Canada: CSIS

CSIS Director Michel Coulombe on Parliament Hill, October 8, 2014 in Ottawa.


Officials continue to focus on the “terrorist traveler phenomenon” as it monitors conflicts abroad, particularly those in Iraq and Syria, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) stated Monday.

CSIS director Michel Coulombe appeared before the Senate committee on National Security and Defence Monday “to discuss the current security environment, and the evolving threat to Canada posed by terrorism.”

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Coulombe issued a statement following the committee stating “the threat of terrorism to our collective safety is real.”

“We have never before faced a threat of the scope, scale and complexity as that posed by extremists inspired by the violent ideologies of ISIL or Al Qaeda,” the statement said.

The agency continues to monitor threats at home and abroad, particularly individuals “with a nexus to Canada.”

Approximately 180 individuals believed to have traveled from Canada are currently engaged in terrorism-related activity overseas. Around 100 of those are believed to be in Turkey, Syria or Iraq.

CSIS is aware of approximately 60 individuals who have returned to Canada after engaging in terror-related activity overseas, Coulombe said.

“These numbers fluctuate constantly and do not paint the entire picture of the scale of the threat to Canada. For example, individuals who have never travelled, but are engaged in threat-related activities at home, are not included in these numbers,” Coulombe said.

“Every extremist prevented or deterred from traveling abroad may become an individual at home that requires ongoing investigation.”

Along with terrorism, CSIS remains vigilant in guarding against “long-term threats such as espionage and cyber-attacks.”

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Coulombe also revealed Monday that the spy service’s newly enhanced powers to disrupt terrorist activity under the former Harper government’s Bill C-51 have been used on a half-dozen occasions.

But he underlined that the “threat-reduction measures” used were carried out without the need for a Federal Court warrant and in some cases simply involved letting suspects know they were under suspicion.

With files from the Canadian Press

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