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When ‘foreign fighters’ meant something very different

By Phil Gurski      

Canada was once concerned about Canadian volunteers returning home from the Spanish Civil War back in the 1930s. Fast forward to 2019 and what phenomenon has seized the attention of the RCMP and CSIS and the Canadian public? Returning Islamic State foreign fighters.

Upwards of 1,600 Canadians, largely though not exclusively Communist or Marxist, left our country to fight for the Spanish government against the forces of Francisco Franco, supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy back in the 1930s. Photograph courtesy of Flickr

OTTAWA—I do not normally read the obituaries. It is not that I have no respect for the dead: it is just that I don’t take the time to see who has passed on. This non-practice is bound to change as I get older and more and more people from my generation, including those with who I worked alongside at CSE and CSIS, leave this mortal coil.

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