Ralph Goodale Admits Chance of Reintegrating Canadian ISIS Terrorists 'Pretty Remote'
OTTAWA – The likelihood of successfully reintegrating ISIS fighters with ties to Canada who have returned home is "pretty remote," admits Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.
After days of questioning over Canada’s plan to rehabilitate returning ISIS fighters, the federal government’s point man on national security says it might be too late for some.
"If you want to have a good solid hope of some kind of successful intervention, it has to be at a much earlier stage. You have to prevent the problem before it exists," said Goodale in an interview with Evan Solomon, host of CTV’s Question Period.
"Once a person has been in a war zone, once they’ve been actively engaged in terrorist-related activities, the capacity to turn them around is pretty remote. That’s why you have to use the other tools, including collecting the evidence and prosecuting wherever and whenever you can," he said.
Though, Goodale admits pursuing charges against these people is difficult. So far charges have been brought in two cases since the Liberals came to power. The challenge, Goodale said, is in translating intelligence that Canadian security agencies have on these people into evidence that will stick in court.
For now, Canadian authorities are using surveillance measures, and passport revocations as methods to monitor those who have come back to Canada.
Goodale said there are between 180 and 190 with a connection to Canada that they know have travelled to Syria and Iraq, among other locations.
As well, there are roughly 60 foreign fighters who have returned to Canada, about the same number as two years ago.
"Some of them will have engaged in fighting and been an active part of the terrorist network. Others will have done other things to support the terrorist network in some other way… some of them may well be dead," Goodale said.
Goodale faced criticism in the House of Commons over the potential national security threat these people pose.
On Friday, the Conservative Party sent a fundraising email to supporters saying that the Liberals are "putting the safety of all Canadians at risk."
"These are people that got on a plane to fight for a terrorist organization committing some of the worst atrocities imaginable… They need to be prosecuted and dealt with to the full extent of the law," the email reads.
Earlier this year the government launched a counter-radicalization centre -- the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence -- to counter extremism. Budget 2016 earmarked $35 million over five years for the centre.