Thursday, October 27, 2016

Battle-Scarred Threats

"Amongst other things, the force [RCMP] must also determine whether they are radicalized and intent on committing crimes, including terrorist acts."
"It will be important to enlist the assistance of community engagement specialists as soon as possible once law enforcement becomes aware of a returnee." 
"They may have a role to play in conducting the basic assessment of indicators noted above, and certainly would assist the returnee in engaging with supportive community resources, including those who would help steer the individual away from criminal activities associated with terrorism."
"The RCMP should be wary of utilizing information about subject X when it has been provided by a country's law enforcement forces that are known to use torture, unreasonable detention, or lack of due process."
Foreign Fighters: Preventing the Security Threat in Canada and Abroad report
In this 2015 photo, ISIL militants patrol Khazer, Iraq, near Mosul
ISIL website via AP    In this 2015 photo, ISIL militants patrol Khazer, Iraq, near Mosul

Wherever in Europe and North America it is known that their nationals journeyed abroad for the express purpose of joining terrorist jihadi groups to fight on behalf of radical Islam, authorities and security agencies are bracing for a returning influx of their nationals who felt so strongly that they were obligated to present themselves as jihadists and potential martyrs in defending Islam, and in most cases from other Muslims, despite the challenging accusations of 'Islamophobia'.

With Mosul set to fall and with it other centers that had been taken by Islamic State to be incorporated into their caliphate, their shrinking territorial holdings will no doubt persuade foreign fighters that the better part of honour is escape. A new report developed for the RCMP outlining plans to meet the challenge of returning fighters to assess their "future postures" , stresses the need to determine whether they are employed, married, "raising funds linked to a little-known charity", or "proselytizing".

ISIS fighters in Iraq. (AP)
The issue is how to deal with those returning from battlefield experience, fighters who trained as terrorists abroad, those who took part in foreign conflicts. A total estimated foreign fighting force of 30,000 in Syria and Iraq are thought to be based in Mosul and Raqqa, the two regional centres of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. As the region continues to shrink of ISIL's caliphate, Europe in particular is bracing for the return of their nationals who fought abroad.

The federal government in Canada is aware of the presence of roughly 60 returnees to date with an additional 180 active in terrorism still overseas. An exodus of foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq is foreseen, an event that of necessity "would pose an immediate security challenge", according to the urgency expressed in the report. One can only ask why it is that when a nation's citizens take leave of the country to take part in what has been affirmed are war crimes and genocide, they are not immediately imprisoned.
A Yazidi woman killed by ISIS.  (Screenshot: YouTube)

They willingly went out of their way to engage in barbarous terrorism well demonstrated in ISIL's propaganda campaign issuing videos to celebrate their penchant for atrocities. They pose a distinct threat to the society they wish to rejoin as though nothing untoward had occurred even while their experiences as terrorists obviously mark them for life. How likely is it that they are set to put all this aside and take on a law-abiding, respectful role in society?

How fitting would it be for a civil society to accept these former terrorists as normal citizens, effectively overlooking their crimes against humanity?

After conflicts in Afghanistan and Bosnia experience has demonstrated the threat inherent in returning combatants who distinguished themselves by involvement in terrorist fundraising, recruitment, radicalization, weapons purchases and distribution and the planning of attacks. Take, for example, the case of Hiva Alizadeh, a Canadian who was known to have been trained in an Afghanistan camp where he swore an "oath of loyalty to al-Qaeda and the Taliban", returned to Ottawa and busied himself recruiting a terrorist cell.


"In the worse-case scenario, one or more of those returnees with terrorist and/or combat experience may target elements of Canadian society. They may use Canada as a base for targeting others, including the United States."
Foreign Fighters: Preventing the Security Threat in Canad and Abroad report

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