ALBERTA

Edmonton Police To Create Counter-Terrorism Unit

04/14/2015 03:06 EDT | Updated 06/14/2015 05:59 EDT
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Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles May 20, 2011
EDMONTON - The police force in Alberta's capital city is setting up its own counter-terrorism unit.

Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht says he's going to bring in officers from other departments such as intelligence analysis and community outreach, but won't say how many officers the new group will include.

"It's going to be a situation of consolidating those resources, leveraging them and getting them focused on a single mandate," Knecht told reporters Tuesday.

Some city police already work with the RCMP as part of its Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) in Alberta. The RCMP has the same teams in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal to investigate terror threats.

Knecht doesn't believe Edmonton is a breeding ground for radicalization, but said the city has seen an increase in terror-related cases.

Last month, Mounties charged a 17-year-old boy from the Edmonton area with terror-related offences for allegedly planning to travel outside Canada to fight with Islamic State militants.

Several young Canadians have already travelled to the Middle East to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq. A national security report said last year that more than 130 individuals were abroad and suspected of terror-related activities.

The Canadian Somali Congress of Western Canada wrote to Prime Minister Stephen Harper last fall warning that young people in Alberta were being recruited to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Knecht said terror investigations are piling up in Edmonton and other jurisdictions across the country.

"Everybody's busy: the RCMP is busy. CSIS is busy,. We're busy. But we're working together and dealing with the priorities as they surface."

He said his new unit will "complement" the RCMP and hopefully work out of the same building as INSET officers.

A spokeswoman with Calgary police says the service doesn't have a named counter-terrorism unit but it does have three officers who work solely on terrorism cases, in addition to officers assigned to INSET. (CHED, The Canadian Press)

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