Editorial note: The original article stated that 60 “ISIS fighters” have returned from abroad and that 190 were engaged in “Islamist terrorism”. The language in this article has been changed to better reflect the 2018 Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada.
According to a new report courtesy of Stewart Bell at Global News, Turkish officials have stated that Turkey is open to allowing detained Canadian ISIS fighters to be transited through their country to face prosecution in Canada.
Moreover, Turkey is willing to cooperate with the RCMP in order to “repatriate the dozens of Canadians caught by U.S.-backed Kurdish forces during the collapse of ISIS.”
This is a interesting development since Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced in February that the United States’ call for other countries to repatriate their ISIS fighters wouldn’t be considered a priority. Elaborating on this, he claimed the Middle East is a “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 our consular officials at risk.” But this development may now provide the proper diplomatic opportunity for the RCMP to achieve a smooth repatriation process.
One of the conundrums that remains, though, is the tension between the Kurds and the Turkey as Turkey refuses to deal with the Kurds directly but officials claim that if the “RCMP or Canadian Armed Forces brought them to the border, they would be allowed through.” Though there are some complications that may come with this (particularly the prospect of Turkish authorities questioning detainees and searching them in a manner that would hinder their prosecution upon return to Canada), the assessment by the RCMP is that it’s likely the better route than the alternative of Iraq, where the 30-odd fighters that are currently held by the Syrian Democratic Forces could possibly receive death sentences.
The RCMP has long been weighing options for how to have these fighters return to Canada in order to prosecute them, and have prepared charges in anticipation of their return, as True North reported back in March.
Government estimates are that around 60 “Canadian Extremist Travellers” have already returned to Canada, and there are around 190 Canadians in total who may be complicit in extremist activities abroad.
But we haven’t exactly had any cogent ideas for how to deal with them so is all this effort towards repatriation really worth it?
Other countries have resolved to strip these people of their citizenship and let them see whatever consequences they may face. As I wrote a few months ago, I’m personally in support of this since they’ve rejected the country that nurtured them and joined a death cult that seeks worldwide domination. Thus, they deserve whatever is coming to them.
Countering this is the president of Insight Threat intelligence, Jessica Davis, who contends that failed repatriation may increase the possibility of these fighters being released and reintegrated into ISIS forces. With a resilient ISIS that has proven to maintain its networks despite the Caliphate being decimated, this might be a point worthy of consideration. Either way, the debate needs to continue.
What do you think? Are these latest efforts towards repatriation a good idea? Join the conversation by commenting below!