TORONTO – Canadian police arrested 10 youths at Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport last weekend who are suspected of wanting to go to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State group, a government official said Tuesday.
The official confirmed the arrests late Tuesday, but did not have any other details. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the case.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police later issued a statement confirming that 10 young Montreal residents had been arrested at the airport.
The official said the youths were suspected of trying to join the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, which holds wide swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. The RCMP statement did not specifically mention ISIS, but said the 10 youths were "suspected of wanting to leave the country to join jihadist groups."
The RCMP said no charges have been brought at this time, but said the investigation is ongoing. All 10 young persons had their passports confiscated.
The RCMP said it was unable to disclose the identity of the persons detained or any information about what led to their arrest because charges have not been brought.
"We can say, however, that the families and friends of the young persons have been met by investigators," the RCMP statement said.
Police asked the media to respect the privacy of the family members.
"These are very difficult times for the relatives and loved ones of the persons arrested, as the decision to leave the country was not that of the family, but of a single family member. As a result, family members often find themselves at a complete loss and unable to understand the decision made by the youth," police said.
Canada's anti-terror unit within the RCMP, Quebec provincial police, and Montreal police took part in the operation.
Steven Blaney, Canada's Public Safety Minister, declined to comment on operational matters in a statement, but commended police for their "continued vigilance in keeping our streets and communities safe from the ongoing global terror threat."
The arrests come about a month after a similar case in Quebec in which a young man and woman were arrested in what the government called a "preventive measure."
El Mahdi Jamali and Sabrine Djermane, both 18, later pleaded not guilty to four charges, including attempting to leave Canada to commit a terrorist act abroad. A bail hearing for the pair is scheduled for early June.
Also in April, a judge in Edmonton ordered a psychiatric exam for an Alberta teenager who was arrested in March on allegations he was planning to leave Canada to fight with ISIS militants.