Statement From CSIS Director Following Senate Committee Appearance


Ottawa, March 7, 2016 – The Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Michel Coulombe, appeared today before the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence to discuss the current security environment, and the evolving threat to Canada posed by terrorism.

Following his appearance, he issued the following statement:

“I was pleased to meet today with the members of the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence to discuss the current threat environment.  As we have seen many times, Canada is not immune to the threat of terrorism.  Whether it was the attacks in Canada of October 2014, or the recent deaths of Canadians from terror attacks in Jakarta and Burkina Faso, the threat of terrorism to our collective safety is real.

I spoke with the Committee today about the conflicts abroad, particularly those in Iraq and Syria, and how they continue to shape the nature of the terrorism threat to Canada. We have never before faced a threat of the scope, scale and complexity as that posed by extremists inspired by the violent ideologies of ISIL or Al Qaeda.

CSIS continues to focus on the terrorist traveller phenomenon, and the numbers of individuals with a nexus to Canada. As I stated before the committee, CSIS is currently aware of approximately 180 individuals who have travelled from Canada and are engaged in terrorist activity abroad. Of these, around 100 are believed to be in Turkey, Syria, or Iraq.  The Service is also aware of approximately 60 individuals who have returned from abroad.  As I advised the committee, these numbers fluctuate constantly and do not paint the entire picture of the scale of the threat to Canada. For example, individuals who have never travelled, but are engaged in threat-related activities at home, are not included in these numbers.  Every extremist prevented or deterred from traveling abroad may become an individual at home that requires ongoing investigation.    

While terrorism remains the Service’s investigative priority, national security threats are increasing across the spectrum. And while the immediacy of the threat of terrorism requires the focus of a significant portion of our resources, we must be vigilant against other long-term threats, such as espionage and cyber-attacks.

Continued cooperation with other Government of Canada departments and agencies, as well as with our foreign partners will continue to be integral to mitigating both the domestic and international threat environment. We must and will remain vigilant.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service is continually reassessing our operations, and the security measures we have in place to respond to the dynamic and complex security environment.  The people of CSIS are dedicated to the protection of Canada’s national security interests and the safety of Canadians.”

For more information on CSIS, please visit the website:


Media Relations
Canadian Security Intelligence Service
(613) 231-0100

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