Canadians who travel overseas to join extremist groups can expect to have their passports revoked, the government is warning.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said Saturday that Ottawa has begun revoking travel documents for those who travel to places such as Iraq and Syria to fight with the Islamic State and other militants groups.
“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,” Alexander said on Friday. “I just don’t want to get into the numbers, but multiple cases.”
While Alexander did not disclose the number of passports invalidated according to the National Post. Furthermore, it was reported that there was roughly 30 Canadians fighting inside Syria and Iraq and over 150 more worldwide.
“Given the barbaric nature of the groups operating now in Syria and Iraq, and their unscrupulous tactics, we need this kind of measure to prevent people from going down this misguided path, and to deter young people from even thinking about it,” he said to Postmedia.
The minister also said that persons who hold dual citizenship may have the Canadian citizenship revoked on the grounds of terrorism. These powers were given to the Canadian government this year according to CTV News.
The move represents a serious step by the Canadian government in the fight against the Islamic State. Without a passport, these citizens will not be able to return home, effectively stranding them in Syria and Iraq.
Revocation of passports is established and legal under the Canadian Passport Order. This is not the first time that this action has been taken against citizens fighting in wars abroad.
The basis for the revocations has not been disclosed, possibly entailing that the information used was gathered covertly or provided by foreign powers such as the United States. In an interview with CTV News, Joel Sandaluk, an immigration lawyer, commented “The thing that’s curious about this is, it’s not exactly all that clear on what information the government is basing these revocations… The government is asking us to place an extraordinary amount of faith in their ability to operate.”
Canada is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, along with the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Five Eyes provides the framework for these five countries to share intelligence gathered by their respective agencies.
The IS also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), is a radical Sunni group, which has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, it launched attacks in northern and western Iraq later announcing the establishment of a caliphate on its conquered territories in Syria and Iraq.