6 young people from Montreal leave to join ISIS
Published Thursday, February 26, 2015 2:52PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 26, 2015 11:13PM EST
Six young people from Montreal – four men and two women – recently left the country to join Islamic State militants in the Middle East, CTV News has learned.
The group, which includes 18-and-19-year-olds, is said to have left Canada in mid-January, and was likely headed to Syria.
Four of them were students at the Collège de Maisonneuve in Montreal.
One of the young men's fathers was so concerned that he took his son's passport. But his son reported it stolen and received a new one.
Students at the college expressed their shock and concern after they learned about the report.
The college also suspended a contract to rent classroom space to an organization run by Adil Charkaoui, after a link was found between one of his courses and a student suspected of joining ISIS in Syria.
Charkaoui was arrested under a security certificate for suspected terrorism-related activities in 2003, which was quashed six years later.
Lise Theriault, Quebec's public security minister, told The Canadian Press that she's not surprised by the news, and she urged people to contact authorities if they suspect radicalization.
During question period Thursday, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the news of young Canadians leaving to join ISIS emphasizes how the Conservatives’ anti-terror legislation, Bill C-51 could help police stamp out radicalization before it occurs, and provide more tools to deal with high-risk travellers.
However, NDP MP Randall Garrison said the legislation was redundant and ignored the need to reach out to at-risk youth.
"Police already have the power to stop people from travelling abroad to commit terrorist offences, what we don’t have is plan to counter radicalization and to stop our young people from turning towards extremist ideologies," Garrison said.
Hussein Hamdani, a lawyer who works with families to prevent radicalization, told CTV News Channel Thursday that news of young Canadians joining ISIS is "devastating."
Hamdani's efforts have focused on preventing radicalization through education and providing a sense of purpose to young people who have dropped out of high school or university.
"These are people who either have very low job prospects, or feel disconnected to their current environment and then decide this is how they're going to make some meaning of themselves," he said.
"(And) joining a new emerging state, if you will, gives them meaning," he said.
Amarnath Amarasingam, a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University, told News Channel that he does not believe enough is being done to prevent youth from becoming radicalized.
He added that efforts need to begin at the "community level," and criticized Bill C-51.
"I don’t think you're going to arrest your way out of this problem, as many others have been saying," he said.
"I think it has to start at the community level -- at a very basic level in terms of educating the community -- on how to respond to these things."
Amarasingam said the onus is currently being placed on families and friends, who are ill-prepared to handle the situation.
"They have very little idea of who to call," he said. "Do you call 9-1-1? Do you call RCMP? Do you call CSIS, and what are the consequences of doing that?
There is a lot of fear in the families about to do when they are noticing these kinds of things," he said.
With a report from CTV Montreal's Tania Krywiak