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Anti-terrorism laws being reviewed due to Islamic State, Harper says

Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers questions as he takes part in a joint press conference with Korean President Park Geun-hye on Parliament Hill on Monday, September 22, 2014.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada is reviewing its anti-terrorism laws in the wake of a direct threat from Islamic extremists who are calling for attacks on Western soil, including Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the comment Monday on Parliament Hill when asked about a new warning from Islamic State leader Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani, who called for the death of westerners in countries involved in actions against his organization.

"For a very long time, our security agencies have been aware of these threats. They track these threats very closely," Mr. Harper said. "We have, as you know, strengthened laws in this country to deal with these kinds of threats. We're currently in the process of examining these laws and examining other means we may have to monitor and to take action against both organizations and individuals who may undertake activities that are potentially threatening to Canadians."

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Meanwhile, the Canadian government is revoking the passports of those who have travelled abroad to take part in terrorist activities, including to Iraq and Syria, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said Monday. Ottawa is also invalidating travel documentation for people that law enforcement believes are planning to leave Canada to become foreign fighters.

"If we don't do it, we put ourselves at risk," Mr. Alexander told reporters in Ottawa, noting the government also has the power to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals convicted of terrorism. "It's part of our responsibility, both to our own population and to the international community."

The minister wouldn't divulge how many passports have so far been affected, citing privacy concerns and national security. However, he said the government believes there are roughly 130 Canadians fighting in foreign countries, including dozens in Iraq and Syria. "All those individuals who are participating in the activities of terrorist groups abroad are potentially subject to this measure," he said.

Canada has sent 69 special forces to Iraq to advise Iraqi forces in their fight against Islamic State. The Canadian government has said its role will be reviewed after 30 days. The Prime Minister has rejected opposition calls for a vote in Parliament on the deployment, arguing that a vote is only required for combat situations.

As for the future shape of Canada's role, Mr. Harper said Monday he continues to work out those details through discussions with allies.

"In terms of what we've done in Iraq, I think our military presence [is] certainly not the only thing we've done, we've also delivered humanitarian aid, but our military presence and our military assistance to people on the ground who are resisting the growth of [Islamic State] is a very important part of that activity and we are continuing our dialogue with our allies to identify ways we can assist in responding to what is a genuinely serious threat."

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Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

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