The RCMP arrested two Ottawa men on a number of terrorism charges Friday.
Ashton Carleton Larmond, 24, was arrested in Ottawa and is charged with facilitating terrorist activity, participation in the activity of a terrorist group and instructing to carry out activity for a terrorist group.
Carlos Larmond, 24, was arrested at Montreal’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. The RCMP said he was intending to travel overseas for “terrorist purposes.” He is charged with participation in the activity of a terrorist group and attempting to leave Canada to participate in terrorist activity abroad.
The arrests were the result of a criminal investigation by the RCMP Ottawa Integrated National Security Enforcement Team.
“Today’s arrests speak to our ability to tackle a threat that is multi-faceted and constantly evolving,” Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, in charge of the RCMP’s Federal Policing Operations, said in a press release.
“Through collaborative efforts with our partners, we were able to prevent these individuals from leaving Canada to engage in terrorist activity overseas.”
Canadians going overseas to participate in terrorist activities is not a new or unheard of phenomenon.
Last month the Toronto Star reported on John Maguire, an Ottawa man who converted to Islam and went to fight in Syria. Maguire, who now identifies himself as “Abu Anwar al-Canadi,” appeared in a propaganda video made by the Islamic State where he called the October killings of two Canadian soldiers a “direct response” to Canada’s military involvement in Iraq. Maguire also warned of more attacks on Canadian soil while preaching radical Islamic ideologies.
A document put out by Public Safety Canada last year, 2014 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada, stated that Canada has seen a “small but notable number of extremist travellers,” and as of early 2014, the government was aware of “more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and who were suspected of terrorism-related activities,” including training, fundraising, promoting radical views and planning.
About 80 of the individuals eventually returned to Canada.
The document also said that Syria, currently in the midst of a bloody civil war between multiple radical factions, is the primary destination. The Canadian government is aware of “about 30” people with Canadian links who having travelled there as well as “a number of individuals” in countries surrounding Syria that intend to engage in terrorist activities of some kind. Destinations for extremist travelers also include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northern Mali and Somalia.
Jeff Yaworski, the deputy operations director at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told Senate in October 2014 that CSIS could not keep track of all returning extremist travellers due to “limited resources.”