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Canada’s plan for managing the return of ISIS fighters revealed in documents

There are demands that Canadians authorities arrest a Toronto man after told the New York Times he participated in a group execution while fighting with ISIS in 2014. David Akin looks into the case of Abu Huzaifa, his confession and the political fallout.

Telling his parents he was flying to Turkey for two weeks, Mohamed Ali left Canada in April 2014 to join the so-called Islamic State.

“I traded the snow for the desert sand,” he wrote on social media after his arrival in Syria.

Four years later, ISIS is collapsing in Syria and Iraq and Canadian officials are bracing for the possible return of foreign fighters like Ali — if he is still alive — as well as their wives and children. Some have already come back.

Canada’s strategy for managing their return is detailed in documents obtained exclusively by Global News that point to the hurdles police face in foreign fighter investigations, and the alternative approaches they are trying because criminal charges have proved so challenging.

Disclosed under the Access to Information Act, the documents are a stark assessment of the prospects that former ISIS fighters like Ali will ever face criminal charges upon their return to Canada, saying terrorism investigations are among the most difficult the RCMP conducts.

“Often, they require evidence of an individual’s activity in foreign conflict zones, or rely on information provided by partners that we are not authorized to disclose in court,” according to the documents. “The RCMP also faces challenges in collecting digital evidence, including access to encrypted communications.”

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