Calgary police have been aware for more than eight years that young people are being recruited by Muslim extremist groups to fight in the Middle East, Chief Rick Hanson said Wednesday.

Chief Rick Hanson

Chief Rick Hanson says Calgary police have known about jihadi recruiting the city for eight years. (CBC)

Hanson made the comments following an exclusive CBC News report last week about Salman Ashrafi, a young man born and raised in Calgary who was identified as a suicide bomber in Iraq by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), a splinter group of al-Qaeda.

He was one of several Calgarians who have gone to the Middle East to fight.

Hanson said police are working with other law enforcement agencies and community groups to identify youth at risk of falling in with terrorists and criminals.

"We've got preventative programs in place, we're actively engaged in the schools, because disenfranchised youth are easily seduced into a gang lifestyle, a crime lifestyle or one where they could become involved in an ideology that can lead to violence," Hanson said.
"The greatest ally we have in this is members of the community who become aware of young people who seem to be disenfranchised and who may be gravitating towards groups that are recruiting."

The Calgary Police Service will continue to put resources into keeping young people from being recruited, Hanson said.