Mark Collins – Fighting ISIS: Boosting Canadian Intelligence in-Theatre

Now that RCAF air strikes against ISIS have been ended we are learning more about the expanded Canadian intelligence contribution to the coalition that government has touted as an important part of our new, improved effort against the very bad guys (CSIS, our mainly domestic HUMINT service, will also be involved–and what about military intelligence?):

Canada’s electronic spy service to take more prominent role in ISIS fight
Canada’s electronic intelligence assets can be as disruptive to ISIS as CF18s, expert says

The Communications Security Establishment [website here], Canada’s electronic spy service, is set to play a more prominent role in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, The Canadian Press has learned.

Multiple sources familiar with the plans, speaking on condition of anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the matter, say the government is deploying a capability that only a “handful of countries” in the world can provide.

CSE is part of the so-called “Five Eyes” community, along with the U.S. National Security Agency — the NSA [more on the Eyes here].

CSE spokesman Ryan Foreman acknowledged the agency is helping the Canadian Armed Forces under the umbrella of Operation Impact, the name of Canada’s anti-ISIL mission in the Middle East [webpage here, note “Mission Refocus”], but refused to discuss specifics.

“While we are proud of our contributions to CAF’s missions, CSE is obligated to respect the Security of Information Act, and cannot address specific operational questions,” Foreman said.

Details kept quiet

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has for weeks been signalling that the military will introduce a “more robust” intelligence-gathering regime, one that allies — chastened by the withdrawal of the six CF-18s — are happy to be bring to the fight.

Separately, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed Thursday that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service [website here] will also play a stepped-up role in the fight against the Islamic State, but he also refused to be specific.

“We are providing new and additional intelligence capabilities in the region and while by its very nature I cannot elaborate, CSIS will have a role to play,” Goodale said.

“It will certainly be an increased role to accomplish larger objectives.”..

It strikes me as just a tad odd the Minister Sajjan makes no detailed reference to the intelligence capabilities of the Canadian Forces themselves:

Not Much Noticed: Canadian Forces Intelligence Command (plus HUMINT)

Meanwhile the latter part of this post gives detailed consideration to the–not recent–matter of CSIS’ foreign activities:

Shock! Horror! The Threat from CSIS Operating Abroad

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


4 thoughts on “Mark Collins – Fighting ISIS: Boosting Canadian Intelligence in-Theatre”

  1. About that air campaign Canada just has to be a part of to be a real country, a serious country, a man’s country.

    “The RAF’s celebrated Brimstone missile system has yet to kill or wound a single Isis terrorist in Syria since MPs controversially voted to support bombing raids in December.

    A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by The Huffington Post UK also revealed just seven Isis militants have been killed or wounded by bombs dropped by RAF jets – either with Paveway bombs or Hellfire drone missiles.”

  2. Meanwhile map of ISIS in Libya:

    Our intel might be useful and the gov’t seems to be thinking of doing something:

    “Military role for Canada in Libya a possibility: General [and MND]”

    Mark Collins

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