The United Nations Security Council is calling on member states to counter the threat posed by thousands of foreign terrorist fighters returning home after the defeat of so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq by beefing up border controls, criminal justice, information-sharing and de-radicalization programs.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member Council called on UN member states on Thursday to strengthen measures to prevent the transit of terrorists through their territories, improve screening procedures and the collection and analysis of travel data to identify individuals who posed a terrorist threat.
The resolution also calls on members states to notify other countries of the travel, arrival, deportation or detention of suspected terrorists.
It also calls on states to take appropriate action in regards to suspected terrorists and their accompanying family members, including prosecution, rehabilitation, and reintegration measures in compliance with domestic and international law.
Vladimir Voronkov, the Under-Secretary-General of the recently-created UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, told the council last month that at one time, more than 40,000 combatants from over 110 countries had joined terrorist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq.
At the end of 2015, Ottawa said it was aware of about 180 individuals “with a nexus to Canada” who had travelled overseas to join such groups, and of another 60 who had returned to Canada.
The resolution also emphasized that member states were obliged to bring to justice anyone who participated in terrorist acts, while stressing the importance of assisting women or children associated with foreign terrorist fighters who might be victims of terrorism.
However, several countries have announced a policy to try to kill foreign terrorist fighters in the conflict zone so they cannot return and pose threats “at home.”
For example, the British government has co-operated with the U.S. on drone strikes that killed two of Britain’s most notorious ISIS members: Mohammed Emwazi (aka Jihadi John) and Junaid Hussain.
But Canada has refused to specifically target Canadian jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
“Canada does not engage in death squads,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told CBC’s Power & Politics on Friday.
“With the battlefield activity winding down, there is a very real question about where the foreign fighters go, and all of our allies, whether they’re in the Five Eyes or the G7, we’ve all agreed to collaborate very carefully.”
Goodale said anyone who poses a terrorist risk, homegrown or from elsewhere, is viewed “with the greatest of seriousness” by Canada’s intelligence, security and police agencies.
However, to date, only two Canadian returnees, Pamir Hakimzadah and Rehab Dughmosh, have been charged with leaving Canada to participate in terrorism. Four more men, some of whom may be dead, have been charged in absentia. To date, no Canadian has been successfully prosecuted for travelling to Syria or Iraq to join a terror group.
With files by Evan Dyer of CBC News and Marc Montgomery of RCI