The House

Attacks in France, Tunisia, Kuwait part of global jihadist threat, says Kenney

Defence Minister Jason Kenney said at least some of Friday's attacks in France, Tunisia and Kuwait were coordinated. He also says ISIS is gaining ground in Syria and that there are no grounds for optimism in Syria today.
Conservative candidate Jason Kenney. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Friday's attacks on a French chemical plant, a resort in Tunisia and a mosque in Kuwait are further proof of a global security threat, said Defence Minister Jason Kenney.

"This just confirms something that's been evident for a long time — that we can see what I call an arc of jihadist violence. We cannot be naive about these threats," Kenney said in an interview on The House.​

Kenney believes 'at least some' of the attacks were coordinated.

"I think it's rather obvious. Any reasonable person can infer that," he said.

He added that he doesn't have "actionable intelligence" on specific coordination but that Canada will be monitoring the security situation closely.

"Every intelligence agency is working very intently right now in determining whether there are other potential threats associated with these attacks," Kenney said. "If there's an elevated threat assessment, obviously our national security infrastructure will respond."

"The attack in France in particular demonstrates that these groups also seek to project their twisted violence into Western democratic countries," he added.

ISIS gaining ground in Syria, says Kenney

Friday's attacks came on the same day at least 145 civilians were reported killed by Islamic State militants in northern Syria.

ISIS is expanding their hold in Syria, due in part to the lack of military intelligence from the ground for coalition fighters — including Canadians — leading airstrike missions, Kenney said.

- Defence Minister Jason Kenney

"Since this March we've included eastern Syria as an area for aerial targets against ISIS, but there aren't a lot of identifiable targets because we don't have intelligence from the ground," Kenney said.

As a result, "the Americans and our air force are being very cautious in our targeting protocols to avoid civilian casualties or collateral damage" — and that is having an impact on the effectiveness of the coalition in defeating ISIS in Syria, he said.

On Thursday, ISIS militants launched a two-pronged attack on the northern Syrian towns of Hassakeh and Kobani

"The situation in Syria does look bleak," Kenney said. "No one's going to tell you there are any grounds for optimism in Syria today."

Kenney said the only solution he sees to the violence in Syria is a "new Syrian political consensus that is secular, that is tolerant, that has the strength to oppose effectively the campaign of violence of groups like ISIS."

But when asked if there's any sign such a political settlement is possible, Kenney had a simple answer: "No."