Saturday, September 20, 2014

Canadian government begins revoking passports of citizens who have left to join jihadist groups

(National Post) The government has begun invalidating the passports of Canadians who have left to join extremist groups in Syria and Iraq, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander revealed in an interview on Friday.

The minister told the National Post his department had also revoked the passports of several Canadians who had not yet left the country but who had intended to travel to the volatile region to enlist as foreign fighters.

He would not disclose the number of passports Citizenship and Immigration Canada had revoked over the conflict but said there were “multiple cases.” The government says about 30 Canadians are with extremist groups in Syria and 130 are active elsewhere.

“Yes, I think it’s safe to say that there are cases of revocation of passports involving people who’ve gone to Syria and Iraq already,” Mr. Alexander said. “I just don’t want to get into the numbers, but multiple cases.”

The action means Canadian fighters in Syria and Iraq may effectively be stranded there. Their passports are no longer valid and therefore cannot be used to return to Canada. Nor could they be used to travel elsewhere.

This week the Post revealed the identity of another Canadian with the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS). Mohammed Ali, a 23-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., left Canada in April and later wrote online about playing soccer with severed heads.

Other Canadians allegedly with ISIS and similar extremist groups in the region include Hasibullah Yusifzai of Burnaby, B.C., and Calgary’s Farah Shirdon, who this week threatened attacks on the United States, before Twitter suspended his account.