Since October 2014, Canada has sustained a physical presence in Iraq to provide military and advisory assistance to the Iraqi forces combating the growing threat of ISIS. An interesting relationship has developed between Canada’s involvement against ISIS and the feelings expressed by ISIS towards the Canadian government since Canada dispatched several dozen Canadian Special Operation Forces (CANSOF) to the region.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a terrorist organization which has, in the midst of the civil war in Syria and general unrest in the region, taken over vast swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria and is trying to establish its rule under its barbaric ideology. ISIS’s interpretation of Sharia law is in fact quite opposite to the true essence of Islam, which encompasses peace and the recognition of the value of human life.
According to some Canadian Muslim organizations Islamic State militants cannot be said to represent Islam in anyway — for example “ISIS is NOT Muslim,” reads a statement from the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and the Muslims Against Terrorism organization. “They are the impostors who have killed thousands of Muslims in Syria and Iraq”.
However, the spokesman for the Islamic State called for attacks on Canadians last year in an apparent attempt to deter US and Canada, as together they have formed a united front to challenge the terrorist group. “Rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling,” he said. Referring to Canadians specifically, he said “You will not feel secure even in your bedrooms. You will pay the price when this crusade of yours collapses, and thereafter we will strike you in your homeland, and you will never be able to harm anyone afterwards”. Clearly these are very threatening messages which have sounded alarms in Ottawa.
Canada deployed Special Operations Forces whose main mission is to guide and offer expertise to local resistance fighters. Using the most experienced and skilled advisors, Canada can offer more valuable assistance in the effort against ISIS while keeping involvement limited. Given the escalation of the crisis, CANSOF troops have to spend twenty percent of their time near the front line, taking part in firefights against ISIS operatives. It is understood that if troops are sent to a region where combat can be reasonably expected, and in the event that they have to call in airstrikes to destroy enemy positions, CANSOF troops will need to defend themselves militarily.
An Ipsos Reid Poll conducted last year determined that 64% of Canadians were supportive of military intervention against ISIS. Given the fact that CANSOF troops had to intensify their level of involvement upon their arrival in the war stricken region, coupled with the recent threats issued by ISIS against Canada, it is necessary for the Canadian government to take stricter action in order to protect national security and to bring about peace and security in the region.