Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen HarperReuters

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper blasted would-be Canadian jihadists Thursday, saying there is "no legitimate reason" in a liberal democracy to join any extremist group, AFP reports.

Harper announced fresh funding for border and federal police agencies, during a visit to the Montreal airport where days earlier 10 teenagers who allegedly hoped to join the Islamic State group were arrested boarding a flight to the Middle East.

"We have a great country here," Harper said. "We have a country unparalleled in terms of its freedom, democracy, its openness and its tolerance.

"There is no legitimate reason of any kind in this country for someone to become a violent jihadist or become a terrorist or join any group that is involved and advocates that kind of activity,” he added.

"It's totally unacceptable to Canada and Canadians, and unacceptable to this government."

Harper also pledged Can$150.36 million (US$123 million) in funding over five years and Can$46.79 million per year thereafter to boost the RCMP's "investigative capacities," as well as Can$1.1 million annually to help the Canada Border Services Agency better "target high risk travellers."

The Islamic State (ISIS) group is known for its brutality in territory it controls in Syria and Iraq. The group's radical ideology has inspired thousands of people to join it or try to send support.

Canada in particular has been concerned over the increasing number of youths from the country who have tried to join the group.

According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), more than 100 Canadians have joined the ranks of ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The number of jihadists' departures from Canada has ramped up with at least a dozen men and women in their teens or twenties having attempted to reach Syria since January, including a woman who had taken an online religious course only to be recruited by the teacher to become an ISIS fighter's bride.

A report released several months ago by the Canadian Ministry of Public Safety detailed the troubling phenomenon of Canadians traveling to the Middle East to join in jihad - and later return to potentially conduct attacks.

"As of early 2014, the Government was aware of more than 130 individuals with Canadian connections who were abroad and who were suspected of terrorism-related activities," noted the report.

That threat was recently illustrated as two brothers from Calgary were identified as members of ISIS in Syria. The two are recent converts to Islam.

In January it was reported that five Canadians had died fighting alongside ISIS terrorists in Syria, including Ottawa-born John Maguire, who converted to Islam and had called for lone wolf attacks in Canada.