Newspaper article The Canadian Press

CSIS Can't Cover 'All the Bases' When Monitoring Radicals: Senior Spy Official

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

CSIS Can't Cover 'All the Bases' When Monitoring Radicals: Senior Spy Official

Article excerpt

CSIS can't cover 'all the bases': official


OTTAWA - It would be foolish to say the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has "all the bases covered" when it comes to monitoring radicalized Canadians who have returned home, a senior CSIS official acknowledges.

Jeff Yaworski, CSIS deputy director of operations, told the Senate national security and defence committee Monday that the spy service must prioritize efforts to keep its eye on dozens of returnees.

CSIS says between 130 to 145 Canadians are overseas taking part in guerrilla-style battles waged by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other groups, as well as supporting extremists through fund-raising and propaganda.

Canada and other western nations fear that radicalized young people who travel abroad could come home with intent to do harm.

"It is something that concerns us greatly and it is our No. 1 priority," Yaworski told the senators.

The RCMP recently said it has about 63 active investigations on 90 suspected extremists who intend to join fights abroad or who have returned to Canada.

Yaworski says while CSIS knows where the returnees are, the spy service must undertake monitoring in line with its budget.

"We have to prioritize these investigations. We have to dedicate our limited resources to those that we think are the greatest threat," he said.

"What does keep me up at nights is those who haven't come across our radar screen."

Informants are the intelligence service's "bread and butter" in determining which individuals "are more radical than others," Yaworski said.

The service also uses court-approved warrants to monitor people of concern.

Liberal Sen. Colin Kenny expressed reservations about CSIS's ability to keep tabs on possible extremists in Canada, given its current personnel levels and the labour-intensive nature of monitoring a suspect.

Yaworski said the service's success rate had been "quite good," but added: "I'd be foolhardy to say we have all the bases covered. …

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