From Omar Khadr to the Toronto 18, a prime source of Canadian recruits for Islamist extremists has been youth.
It's time the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) improved its policies for dealing with radicalized Canadian Muslims, the agency's watchdog committee says in its annual report.
"The phenomenon of domestic radicalization has made it more likely that CSIS will come into contact with an increasing number of young people, as youth are often the target of radicalization efforts, particularly with regards to recruitment via the Internet," the report said, according to the National Post.
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The Security Intelligence Review Committee recommended CSIS flag reports concerning minors and develop a policy on sharing information with foreign intelligence agencies about them.
The report, presented to Parliament this week, said tracking the radicalization of Canadians is a national-security priority and it noted many drawn to extremism are young people who find the information on al-Qaeda's ideology on the Internet, the Post said.
Among al-Qaeda's youthful recruits was Omar Khadr, who along with his siblings was radicalized by his father, Ahmed Khadr, a fundraiser for the terror group killed by Pakistani troops. Omar Khadr spent a decade in Guantanamo Bay for killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan when he was 15. He was recently transferred to a Canadian prison to serve out the rest of his sentence.
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Then there was the Toronto 18, a group of would-be terrorists nabbed in 2006 that included four youths. They wanted to bomb the Toronto Stock Exchange and attack Parliament.
Former CSIS assistant director Ray Boisvert, now head of a security consulting firm, told the Post the agency has already told frontline officers and analysts to treat minors with "extreme sensitivity."
"I think it's a reasonable step, frankly," Boisvert said of the committee's recommendation.
CSIS spokeswoman Tahera Mufti told the Post the agency was "very conscious of the sensitivities associated with collecting and sharing information" about youths.