OTTAWA: Canadian federal police on Tuesday raided homes in the Montreal area linked by local media to suspected jihadists who had been detained for allegedly seeking to join Islamic State militants.
Searches were conducted around the city and had concluded by late afternoon, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Erique Gasse told AFP.
He declined to offer details of the RCMP’s “ongoing investigation.”
Local television showed officers hauling boxes out of the suspects’ homes in three Montreal suburbs.
The 10 would-be jihadists believed to be the focus of the raids were arrested on the weekend of May 16 at the Montreal airport as they waited to board a flight to Turkey, a popular crossing point into neighboring Syria.
There, the young men aged 15 to 18 years had hoped to join the Islamic State group, according to a counterterrorism task force.
Their passports were seized but the youths were released after being questioned along with their parents, according to the RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.
Investigators have remained tight-lipped about the arrests, saying only that a tip from a concerned parent helped authorities to stop the youths from leaving Canada.
The police searches came as the Canadian Senate held hearings on new anti-terror measures that Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney testified Monday would have allowed federal police to hold the 10 suspects.
The new legislation, when it comes into force in June, will dramatically expand the powers and reach of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, allowing it to actively thwart terror plots and operate overseas for the first time.
It also criminalizes the promotion of terrorism and makes it easier for police to arrest and detain individuals without charge.
According to the RCMP, more than 100 Canadians have joined the ranks of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq. At least a dozen men and women in their teens or twenties have attempted to make the trip so far this year.
Four of the 10 suspects detained mid-May were schoolmates of six other young men and women who had traveled to Syria in January.