An Islamic State militant waves an ISIS flag in Raqqa, Syria. In December, Ottawa estimated the number of Canadian extremists abroad at about 190. (Reuters)

Ottawa won’t heed U.S. call to return ISIS fighters

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Canada will not answer a call by Washington that U.S. allies bring ISIS volunteers home to face prosecution.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the proposition is too risky.

A Free Syrian Army fighter stands in front of graffiti that reads ‘ISIS down’ in Aleppo, Syria. Syrian activist group Sound and Picture is working with the FSA to identify suspected ISIS militants trying to flee. (Jalal Alhalabi/Reuters)

Instead, Goodale says, Ottawa will continue to work with its allies in the Five Eyes Intelligence sharing network (Australia, Britain, New Zealand and the U.S.) to gather evidence that can be used to convict Canadians who joined ISIS.

Washington issued the call on Monday, saying the Syrian Defence Forces have taken custody of hundreds of foreign fighters from countries around the world.

“We have heard the request, or the suggestion, from the United States, but at this point, the fact of the matter remains that is a dangerous and dysfunctional part of the world in which we have no diplomatic presence and we are not going to put our diplomatic officers or consular officials at risk,” Goodale said Tuesday.

The federal government said in December that it did not expect to see many foreign fighters return to Canada, but prosecuting those who have ramains a challenge.

In this file picture taken on Friday, July 21, 2017, Kurdish soldiers from the Anti-Terrorism Units escort a blindfolded Indonesian man suspected of Islamic State membership at a security center in Kobani, Syria. (Hussein Malla/Associated Press)

It estimated that about 60 people suspected of engaging in extremist activities abroad had returned to Canada while another 190 remained abroad.

Most of the 60 who came back to Canada returned from Turkey, Iraq or Syria.

A senior research fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, Amarnath Amarasingham, says there are currently four Canadian men, three women and seven children in custody in Syria.

The government did not confirm those numbers, citing Canada’s privacy act.

Both the U.S. Department of Defense and the United Nations estimate that approximately 30,000 ISIS fighters remain in the Middle East

With files from CBC, Global News

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2 comments on “Ottawa won’t heed U.S. call to return ISIS fighters
  1. Avatar James Vandenblink says:

    Isis fighters should receive the same treatment as they doled out to their innocent victims.
    Under no circumstance should they be allowed on Canadian soil.

  2. Avatar helen clark says:

    Good call Mr. Goodale! We Canadians do not want these ISIS members or their cruel traits inside our CANADA! Also why tie up the courts with more of the duty to prosecute. Its another expense we Canadians are NOT willing to pay for. Thanks, Merci, and Ko nichi ba!