MONTREAL – Ten young people suspected of wanting to join jihadist groups overseas were arrested last weekend at Montreal’s Trudeau International Airport, the RCMP said late Tuesday.
No charges have been laid, the investigation is ongoing and the 10 young Montrealers have had their passports confiscated.
The RCMP said in a statement that it is unable to release any names or information on what led to the arrests.
Investigators have, however, met with the families and friends of the suspects and said “the decision to leave the country was not that of the family, but of a single family member.”
“These are very difficult times for the relatives and loved ones of the persons arrested,” the RCMP said. “As a result, family members often find themselves at a complete loss and unable to understand the decision made by the youth.”
Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said in a release that he cannot comment on the arrests directly, but he commended the RCMP and the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team for their “continued vigilance in keeping our streets and communities safe from the ongoing global terror threat.”
The weekend arrests follow reports earlier this year that six young people from the Montreal area had left the country in mid-January and may have joined jihadist groups in the Middle East.
A well-placed source confirmed the six people between 18 and 20 years old all went to Turkey, which is a well-known gateway to jihadists groups based in Syria and Iraq. Montreal police would only confirm that they were investigating several cases of missing adults.
In April in Montreal, a young man and woman were arrested in what the Crown called a “preventive measure.”
El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djermane, both 18, later pleaded not guilty to four charges, including attempting to leave Canada to commit a terrorist act abroad. A bail hearing for the pair is scheduled for early June.
Also in April, a judge in Edmonton ordered a psychiatric exam for an Alberta teen who was arrested in Beaumont, Alta., in March on allegations he was planning to leave Canada to fight with Islamic State militants.