Canadian police arrested 10 young people from Montreal who they suspect wanted to leave the country to join militant groups in the Middle East, officials said on Wednesday.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the 10 were detained last weekend in a series of arrests at Montreal\’s international airport. No charges have been laid and police declined to give any details about the people.
"We have reason to believe that the young Montrealers wanted to travel abroad to join jihadist groups," said RCMP spokesman Constable Erique Gasse.
Police said the passports of all 10 were confiscated.
Montreal is the largest city in the French-speaking province of Quebec and Canada, like other western nations, is trying to stem the flow of disaffected, mostly young Muslims, who want to join groups such as Islamic State.
Six Canadian teens aged 18 to 19 disappeared from Quebec in January and February and are believed to have traveled to join Islamic State militants
French-language public broadcaster Radio-Canada said that some of the people arrested last weekend had wanted to fly to Syria via Turkey. It did not identify its sources. Police had been alerted by family members, the report said.
Radio-Canada cited a lawyer for one detainee as saying the youth had been recruited over the Internet by someone promising "a better life".
Last month, Canada\’s spy agency said the number of Canadians leaving to join militant groups in Iraq and Syria had increased 50 percent in the past few months.
Canada\’s Conservative government introduced tough new legislation aimed at giving more powers to police and security agencies, enabling them to stop people trying to leave to join militant groups.
Canada last year sent 70 special forces troops to help train Iraqi soldiers fight Islamic State, which took over swathes of Iraq and Syria last year. Six Canadian jets are taking part in U.S.-led bombing attacks against the group in both Iraq and Syria.
"We will not sit on the sidelines but instead join our allies to degrade and defeat (Islamic State)," Public Safety Minister Stephen Blaney said in a statement on the weekend\’s arrests.