Canadian Extremist Travellers (NCSB)


Individuals with a nexus to Canada have travelled, or attempted to travel abroad, to support terrorist organizations, including in Syria and Iraq. Some individuals have already returned to Canada from various conflict zones, while others may return in the future.


If pressed on the number of charges:

If pressed on Canadians currently in Syria:


Beginning several years ago with the rise of Daesh, individuals from around the world – including Canada – travelled to Syria to engage in violent extremist activity. Internationally referred to as ‘foreign terrorist fighters,’ these individuals have been involved in a variety of activities including frontline combat, fundraising, operational planning, and disseminating online propaganda. This issue threatens Canadian interests through destabilization in the Middle East and the exacerbation of the international terrorist threat. Of particular concern is the prospect that individuals with ties to violent extremist or terrorist groups could return to their home countries, including Canada, to conduct terrorist attacks, attempt to radicalize others to violence, or serve as focal points for the inspiration of future or aspiring extremist travelers.

As per the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians (NSICOP) Annual Report 2020, at least 200 CETs have travelled overseas since 2013 to join or support terrorist organizations.At the end of 2020, approximately 122 suspected CETs were in Syria, Iraq and Turkey, and an additional 61 suspected CETs had returned to Canada. The remainder were in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon and Somalia.

Specific offences with respect to terrorism were created in the Criminal Code following the 9/11 attacks. To date, a total of 63 individuals have been charged with terrorism offences, and 33 of them have been convicted thus far. In 2013, offences specifically related to leaving or attempting to leave Canada for the purposes of committing certain terrorism offences were enacted in the Criminal Code. As of October 2021, a total of 14 individuals have been charged with specific travel-related terrorism offences under ss. 83.181 (leaving Canada to participate in activity of terrorist group) and 83.201 (leaving Canada to commit offence for terrorist group): six have been convicted; two have been acquitted; four have outstanding warrants; one has had charges withdrawn; and one has had charges stayed. A further two individuals whose alleged offences commenced before the coming into force of the specific travel-related terrorism offences have been recently charged under s. 83.18 (participation in activity of terrorist group).

Canada’s security intelligence and law enforcement agencies have authorities and tools to investigate and disrupt potential threats to Canadians. Where law enforcement has insufficient evidence to lay criminal charges, other preventive tools are considered to mitigate the threat. In these cases, security intelligence and law enforcement agencies will need to prioritize and adapt to address the threat.
Canada can utilize a number of tools in responding to potential threats posed by CETs and returnees:

Additionally, intervention programs are not limited to returning CETs but may also be used to intervene with individuals in Canada who are, or are at risk of becoming radicalized to violence.

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