5 things from CTV's QP: Fight against Islamic State at home and abroad
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, September 7, 2014 11:19AM EDT
Canada and its NATO allies turned their attention this week to combating the Islamic State’s violent fighting campaign in the Middle East and effective recruiting campaign online.
In interviews on CTV’s Question Period, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander and former NATO commander James G. Stavridis, Dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, spoke about some of the techniques Canada and its allies are already using to fight the Islamic State.
They also spoke about what might come next, including whether Canada should consider confiscating passports from suspected terrorists.
Here are five things to know about how Canada is responding to the threat of the Islamic State:
1. More than 100 Canadians are suspected to have joined terrorism groups abroad
The number of Canadians who have been lured into fighting in Syria and Iraq is a “deep concern,” Minister Chris Alexander told CTV’s Robert Fife.The federal government estimates 130 Canadians have gone abroad to fight with terrorist groups such as the Islamic State. About 80 have since returned to Canada, according a report issued at the end of August.
“It is a death sentence for these kids to make that trip, to join this group,” Alexander said. “They may see some videos on YouTube, but the fact of the matter is that life is brutal and usually short for those who join up in these misguided causes.”
2. Canada has laws to prevent homegrown militants
The current government introduced Canada’s first counterterrorism strategy in 2012 and has since passed laws in the name of preventing terrorism on Canadian soil. Changes to the Citizenship Act -- which were passed on June 19 -- allow the government to revoke citizenship for dual nationals who have been convicted of terrorism.
“We are going to take action to make sure Canadians are safe, to make sure those that have done this in the past will feel the force of the law,” Alexander said. “If someone is a dual national and is fighting over there but is convicted of a terrorism offence, we will revoke their citizenship, not just deny them a passport.”
3. The government isn’t ruling out further measures, including seizure of passports
British Prime Minister David Cameron announced this week that police may be granted measures to seize British passports from suspected extremists. Alexander said the Canadian government is not ruling out similar measures.
In certain circumstances, Alexander said, the government can already restrict access to passports for known terrorists. But tougher laws or restrictions are still an option.
“If there is room to improve our system and make sure that we are deterring and preventing Canadians from going abroad and committing acts of terrorism, then that’s what we’ll do,” he said.
4. To beat the Islamic State, allies need to surround it
As Canada works to prevent terrorism at home, the international community is also considering how to combat the Islamic State on the ground.
On Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird committed $10 million in equipment and logistics support to Iraqi forces and $5 million to prevent foreign fighters from joining the militants.
Stavridis, a retired U.S. admiral and former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said the key to fighting the Islamic State is to target them from all sides by arming and advising the Peshmerga, or Kurds, in the north, aiding Iraqi forces in the south, and bombing militant strongholds in the west.
“They sit in the middle of Iraq and Syria,” Stavridis said. “That central position, that internal position gives them great military advantage -- until they face threats on all three axes simultaneously.”
5. Having Special Forces on the ground may help, but Canadians don’t support that
Stavridis also recommended that NATO Special Forces should be deployed on the ground. Special Forces could help train locals and control air fire, he said.
“Special forces in NATO are very capable of doing this and operating in those regions and I think that will be necessary if we’re going to take on ISIS properly.”
On Friday, Canada committed several dozen special ops forces to joining U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The forces’ mission is to assist in advising Iraqi forces on how to fight the Islamic State.
But Prime Minister Stephen Harper stressed that this is non-combat mission. Harper said the military advisers have been committed for 30 days. After that time, the mission will be reassessed.
Question Period airs every Sunday on CTV News Channel. This week’s episode examines Canadian and NATO response to Islamic State in detail.