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Charging former ISIS fighters challenge for feds: analyst

Last Updated May 14, 2018 at 2:47 pm PDT

An Iraqi soldier stands guard at the ruins of the Nabi Yunus shrine in Mosul, Iraq. The so-called Islamic State blew up the shrine in 2014. (iStock)
Summary

Security expert says it's hard to make wartime evidence court-worthy

Investigators have to rely on counselling to mitigate terror risks according to analyst

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – The Trudeau Government and federal law enforcement agencies are facing challenges in prosecuting people who return to Canada after flying overseas to fight with terror organizations like ISIS.

This all comes as questions are raised about Abu Huzaifa, a Canadian who admitted in a New York Times podcast to executing someone while fighting with ISIS, but denied killing anyone in interviews with Canadian news outlets.

The challenges are outlined in briefing notes for the Public Safety Minister. They call terror investigations complex and resource intensive and as Stephanie Carvin, a former government security analyst, says the problem for police is collecting enough evidence that will stand up in court.

“It’s impossible to know what’s happening in a war zone. Even if you could get that intelligence, it’s not always easy to make it as court-worthy evidence,” says Carvin.

“It’s actually easier to prosecute someone for trying to join ISIS than actually when they come back and you know they may have actually been a member of that movement.”

So with challenges laying charges, the government aims to mitigate the risks through efforts outside the justice system, like counselling.

“Religious counselling [and] normal psychological counselling to ensure these people aren’t thinking about conducting an attack.”

The government estimates up to 60 people have returned to our country after participating in terror groups overseas.

A statement from the minister’s office notes when there are challenges in gathering usable evidence, police have a number of anti-terror measures they can use to keep Canadians safe.