OTTAWA — The Conservative government intends to do more both at home and abroad to counter Islamic extremism, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday in response to a new threat levelled directly at Canada.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant issued a new audio recording over the weekend urging supporters to kill westerners — military or civilian — from countries involved in the battle against ISIL in northern Iraq, including “Canadians.”
Security agencies have been tracking these events for some time, Harper told a news conference.
“We have, as you know, strengthened laws in this country to deal with these kinds of threats,” he said.
“We are currently in the process of examining these laws and examining other means we may have to monitor and to take action against both organizations and individuals who may undertake activities that are potentially threatening to Canadians.”
The ISIL statement was released in Arabic by the group’s media arm, Al-Furqan, and appeared on militant sites used by the group. The Associated Press reported the speaker sounded like that of previous recordings attributed to Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani.
In the 42-minute audio statement, released online late Sunday, al-Adnani said the coalition would not be able to defeat the jihadis. He called on Muslims everywhere to kill anyone whose country takes part in the attack.
“Oh, believer, do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons and troops of the tyrants. Strike their police, security and intelligence members,” al-Adnani said.
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that joined a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be.”
Canada is sending 69 special forces personnel to serve as advisers to Iraqi forces battling ISIL militants, in addition to humanitarian assistance. The door is still open on further support, Harper suggested.
“We are continuing our dialogue with our allies to identify ways we can assist in responding to what is genuinely serious threat.”
The existing mission is only supposed to last 30 days, although it remains unclear when that time frame began — or even whether the clock is yet running.
“With any credible terrorist threat, the government must take appropriate security measures, but this must not become an excuse for rubber-stamping the Conservatives’ ill-defined military mission in Iraq,” MP Jack Harris said Monday.
The government also revealed over the weekend that it has begun revoking the passports of those it believes are headed to join terrorist groups, though it has not provided details about how many have so far been revoked.
The House passed legislation last year making it a criminal offence to leave Canada for the purpose of committing terrorism.
Canadians need to know more about how far the government is willing to go, said Liberal MP Wayne Easter, who was once the minister responsible for national security.
“We have defined a way of ensuring we protect ourselves against these radicalized individuals but we also have to find a way to make sure that justice prevails in terms of a person’s right to fair play,” Easter said.
He has been calling for the Commons public safety committee to launch a formal study of Canadians getting involved with terrorist groups abroad.