Canada must prepare for the return of a dozen or more of its citizens who fought for Daesh, now that the terror organization is near collapse, authorities said Wednesday.
Canada said the fighters captured in Syria would probably be released and cross into Turkey, and officials are working with authorities there to send them back to Canada to be dealt with on home soil.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said due to the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, the fate of captured Canadian Daesh fighters is uncertain.
“We need to get ready in case they come back sooner than we had expected,” said RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gilles Michaud in an interview with media.
Police and prosecutors are putting together a plan that will see charges laid or peace bonds brought into play for returning fighters. In Canada, persons who sign a peace bond can be arrested if they commit an additional crime.
The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an ally of the U.S., recently captured several Canadian Daesh members, which may mean they will be freed once the U.S. pulls most of its troops out of Syria.
While the UK is cancelling citizenships for any of its Daesh members, the U.S. has urged countries to take fighters back and prosecute them.
Canadian officials plan to assess each fighter upon their return home and then take one of three actions: criminal charges, terrorist peace bonds or deradicalization interventions, which aim to get those with extreme and violent religious or political ideologies to adopt more moderate and nonviolent views.
The RCMP has been feverishly working with local police and government organizations to ensure Daesh members are fully vetted upon their return.
“The reason why we’re doing all of this is because any information on any individual that could pose a threat to Canadians, we will investigate fully,” Michaud said.
The Canadian government has cancelled the passports of known fighters so that they have to apply for new ones. That alerts the RCMP to their likely return.