A trove of documents turned over to European news outlets is reported to list the names of at least half a dozen Canadians among thousands of foreigners who have joined the Islamic State terrorist group.
Britain’s Sky News reported Wednesday it had obtained 22,000 Islamic State files that contained the names, addresses, telephone numbers and family contacts of jihadis from at least 51 countries.
“We are not in a position to offer any information on this subject,” an RCMP spokesman said from Ottawa.
Public Safety Canada also had little to say about the documents but called the phenomenon of foreign fighters and understanding their radicalization process a “key priority” for the country’s national security agencies.
“The government is committed to establishing an office of community outreach on counter-radicalization and a national strategy to address this issue,” the ministry said in a statement.
Michel Coulombe, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, recently told a Senate committee recently that Canadian authorities suspect about 100 Canadians are in Iraq and Syria fighting with terrorist organizations.
Some Canadians who have joined Islamic State have gained widespread publicity. One of them, for example, was Damian Clairmont, 22, of Calgary, a convert to Islam who was killed in early 2014. Police have also charged Farah Shirdon, 22, also of Calgary, with several offences, including leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group, taking part in the activity of a terrorist group, and threatening the U.S. and Canada.
The documents were first revealed on Monday by the Munich-based Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and German broadcasters WDR and NDR.
The London-based Guardian newspaper said the documents allegedly contain details of six fighters from Canada, as well as recruits from Britain, France, Germany, the U.S., and other countries.
According to Sky News, the files were on a memory stick stolen from the head of Islamic State’s internal security police by a disillusioned former Free Syrian Army who calls himself Abu Hamed.
The documents, a 23-question form, are apparently required before recruits are inducted into the terror group that is most active in Syria and Iraq.
German media reported that the questionnaire asked would-be recruits about any previous experience they had in jihad and whether they were prepared to be suicide bombers.
The documents appear to have been collected at the end of 2013, according to various reports, but western intelligence authorities are still keen to get their hands on the files.
A spokesman for Germany’s federal police said Thursday they were in possession of files containing personal data on members of the extremist Islamic State and believe them to be authentic.
U.S. Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, said the information could help the coalition fight the Islamic State group by aiding in a crack-down on its foreign-fighter networks.
Warren called on media outlets who might have the names and numbers to publish them.