The RCMP is developing a program to stop Canadians from becoming radicalized by violent ideologies, a new report reveals.
As of early 2014, about 130 people with Canadian connections were believed to be in countries such as Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan participating in terrorism-related activities, the Public Safety Canada report said.
Another 80 have returned to Canada, according to the 2014 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada.
The RCMP is putting in place the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program to stop Canadians at risk of being radicalized. The police force says it aims to have the program in place by year's end.
It's not entirely clear how the program will work.
In an email, the RCMP says it will work with families of "vulnerable individuals" who are experiencing behavioural changes. It also says the program "will include educating Canadians on the role of law enforcement and the responsibilities that they, in turn, have in safeguarding Canada."
'Tarnishing Canada's reputation'
Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney says radicalized Canadians represent a "small number of individuals" who are "putting lives at risk and tarnishing Canada’s reputation."
He cites the example of Xristos Katsiroubas and Ali Medlej of London, Ont., who were killed while staging a bloody attack on an Algerian gas refinery in 2013.
The government points to its 2012 counter-terrorism strategy as a means of dealing with potential threats. The strategy aims to prevent, detect, deny and respond to terrorism.
It also cites a law passed in 2013 that made it illegal to leave or attempt to leave the country to commit certain terrorism-related offences. The legislation was criticized by some because it also allows preventative detention of some suspects.
The Public Safety Canada report says there is also concern about what happens when so-called "extremist travellers" leave the countries in which they are fighting.
"Some extremist travellers returning to the West may pose a threat. The much greater number of experienced extremist travellers returning to the Middle East, Africa and Asia magnifies the threat to those regions," it said.
As to why there have not been more arrests of Canadians who have returned from fighting overseas, a spokesman from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service said in an email to CBC News the agency is aware of such cases and that investigations are under way.