In a year-end interview with CTV Chief News Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme, Justin Trudeau defended his decision to provide returning ISIS fighters with “reintegration support”, in spite of the fact that Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale admitted that the likelihood of reintegration is “pretty remote.”
“There’s a range of experiences when people come home. We know that actually someone who has engaged and turned away from that hateful ideology can be an extraordinarily powerful voice for preventing radicalization in future generations and younger people within the community,” Trudeau told LaFlamme.
In a shouting match in the House of Commons on November 28, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer hammered Trudeau for going easy on suspected ISIS terrorists returning to Canada, while the prime minister accused the Conservatives of “Islamophobia”.
Scheer slammed the Prime Minister for not taking security of Canadians seriously, and mocked him for attempting to reintegrate ISIS fighters with “poetry and podcasts and all kinds of counselling and group-hug sessions”. Trudeau defended his position by saying that the Liberals have “methods of de-emphasizing or de-programming people who want to harm our society, and those are some things we have to move forward on.”
Pressed by Scheer, a visibly angry Trudeau accused the Conservatives of “learning nothing” from the last elections. “They ran elections on snitch lines against Muslims. They ran an election on Islamophobia and division. And still they play the same games”, Trudeau snapped.
The “snitch line against Muslims” Trudeau referred to had no explicit or implicit references to Muslims, but was rather a commitment by the Harper Conservatives to end “barbaric cultural practices” by introducing a tip line designed to prevent child and forced marriages, polygamy and “honour” killings in Canada by enabling victims of those practices to report those incidences to the RCMP. The practices were clearly defined in the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, a legislation introduced by the Conservative Government in the summer of 2015. The Act provided improved protection and support for vulnerable individuals—primarily immigrant women and girls – and included raising the legal age for marriage to 16, criminalizing child and forced marriage and limiting the defence of provocation so that it would not apply in spousal homicides. The Act also deemed permanent residents who practice polygamy inadmissible to Canada.
Since the Liberals took office, out of an estimated 60 ISIS terrorists who returned to Canada after fighting with ISIS and other Islamic groups, only two Canadians were charged with offences for participating in terrorism abroad.
According to the Radicalization Awareness Network (RAN), potential threat from returning ISIS terrorists to Europe is already visible. The Brussels terrorist attacks on a Jewish Museum in May 2014 and the airport and metro station in March 2016, as well as the multiple attacks in Paris in November 2015 were all atrocities perpetrated “to some degree” by returnees. In Paris, at least six of the perpetrators had returned from Syria, while three out of the five Brussels attackers were returnees.
In July 2017, RAN published a policy paper on returning ISIS jihadists to Europe, in which it outlined major security concerns because of the jihadists’ battlefield experience, training in the use of weapons and connection to international terrorist networks.
According to RAN, participating in or even observing atrocities committed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq “further increases the potential threat posed by returnees”.
In “Beyond the Caliphate” – a report by the Soufan Centre and the Global Strategy Network on returning ISIS jihadists – former MI6 chief Richard Barrett claims that “all returnees, whatever their reason for going home, will continue to pose some degree of risk”, and notes there has also been a rise in the number of women involved in attacks – with nearly a quarter of terror plots in Europe from the start of 2017 to May involving women.
The danger of women attackers was laid bare in September 2016, when the French authorities arrested three women for leaving a car bomb near Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The plot had been guided by ISIS terrorists in Syria.