MONTREAL: 10 teens arrested while trying to leave Canada to join ISIS
CBC News Posted: May 20, 2015 5:14 PM ET Last Updated: May 20, 2015 9:52 PM ET
The Quebec government says it will soon table legislation designed to fight the radicalization of the province’s youth in the wake of 10 arrests over the weekend.
Police believe the teens, who were arrested but not charged, were trying to leave Canada to join jihadists fighting in Turkey and Syria.
Four of the 10 teens arrested were students at Montreal CEGEP Collège de Maisonneuve.
“We always are concerned about this, given the fact that it seems to be our youth — born here — in our learning institutions,” said Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard on Wednesday. “That is why we will come very soon with a policy that is going to be broad, that will also include the prevention, detection and also other measures from the legislative point of view.”
The government did not elaborate on any details about the proposed legislation, but said it plans to table its bill before June 12.
Parent tipped off police
Police were tipped off by a parent of one of the 10 teens arrested on the weekend.
“This time, thanks to the support of the parents, we were able to prevent that from happening,” Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney told CBC News Wednesday, emphasizing the government’s plan to focus on prevention and intervention before suspected acts of terrorism are committed.
“These types of operations makes me more convinced than ever that our anti-terrorism measures will better protect Canadians against those who want to harm us.”
- 10 Montreal young people arrested on suspicion of wanting to join jihad
- Syrian jihadists believed to have recruited 6 young Quebecers
- Quebec parents plead for suspected radicalized teenager to come home
The arrests over the weekend at Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport were carried out by the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team. They arrested another youth in the city’s east-end borough of Saint-Léonard.
The young people, mostly minors, were interviewed extensively and released without being charged.
The passports of those arrested have been confiscated.
Article 490 of the Criminal Code states that material can be seized if it “is required for the purposes of any investigation or a preliminary inquiry, trial or other proceeding.”
Some of those arrested at the airport have ties to the six Quebecers who are thought to have left for Turkey, en route to Syria, in January.
National Defence Minister Jason Kenney said that although it’s important not to overemphasize the threat of radicalization and recruitment of potential terrorists in Canadians, the threat is real.
“The truth is that some young individuals have been seduced, often online, by an entire ideology of violence,” he said.
“There is no excuse for this. Every one of those individuals has grown up in this incredibly tolerant peaceful, pluralistic, prosperous, free society. We should never blame Canada for the inexplicable decision of radicalized youth to join terrorist organizations.”
In a statement released Tuesday night, the RCMP said investigators have also met with the friends and families of the 10 youths arrested.
Police emphasized that the decision to leave the country was “not that of the family, but of a single family member.”
Blaney said he cannot comment on specific operational matters, but commended the RCMP and the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team for their “continued vigilance.”
“We are now facing individuals who are radicalizing Canadians and that’s why the first pillar of our counterterrorism strategy is prevention,” Blaney said.
“We need to intervene at an earlier stage … because we can prevent those terrorist attacks from happening and we can prevent those individuals from being criminalized, prosecuted, charged and serving sentences.”
He said he intends to call a ministerial conference at the beginning of the summer on the issue of anti-terrorism and radicalization.