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ISIS supporter to have release date suspended during appeal

A Jordanian man who has been deemed a danger to Canada and is known for spreading ISIS propaganda has had his stay in police custody extended

Dylan Gibbons Montreal QC

A Jordanian man who has been deemed a danger to Canada and is known for spreading ISIS propaganda has had his stay in police custody extended by the Federal Court so that the Canada Border Services Agency can appeal his release.

Originally, Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) Member Geoff Rempel had rejected the Canada Border Services Agency’s concerns that Othman Hamdan was still a threat and ordered his release for Friday in a small town in B.C.

His release is still possible. It all depends on whether the CBSA’s court appeal is successful.

He was identified in 2014 for making threats online, as well as making detailed posts about how to fatally attack Canadians. He was found not guilty of terrorism in 2017 by the IRB, who then suggested he be deported to Jordan.

“Mr. Hamdan identified infrastructure in Canada which could be targets for attack. He encouraged lone wolves in the West who could not travel abroad to carry out attacks at home,” the IRB ruled.

“He shared a detailed how-to manual for lone wolves to follow in serving the terrorist agenda of the Islamic State. Additionally, many posts appear to be recruitment initiatives.”

In 2018, IRB board member Marc Tessler wrote that Hamdan has “praised lone wolf attacks, actively promoted the Islamic State, disseminated instructions on how to commit attacks and seems fascinated with the extreme violence of the Islamic State demonstrated by possessing Islamic State videos depicting gruesome murders.”

Hamdan was to be deported in 2018, but this decision was overruled when he agreed to several conditions. These included no longer posting on the internet, never possessing a weapon, a ban on driving, attending counselling, and living with a friend who posted a $2,000 bond.

“I find that under the supervision of the bondsperson, he’s going to have little opportunity to incite violence online or for that matter to plan and carry out any attack of his own,” an IRB member ruled.

One of the major reasons his deportation has yet to happen is Hamdan’s continued assertion that he would be killed if he returned to Jordan.

37-year-old Hamdan originally came to Canada in 2002 as a refugee. He gained refugee status in 2004 after claiming that he had been persecuted in Jordan for converting to Christianity and that he now feared for his safety in his home country.

He has since been stripped of this refugee status.

“The fact that, in this case, the danger articulated and argued by the minister, the fact that that danger relates to possible or potential terrorism, with all the strong visceral reactions that that word evokes, should not and cannot affect what I’m required to do, which is a dispassionate analysis of the level of risk,” Rempel stated.

If released, Hamdan is to live with a man who he previously roomed with during the time he made his pro-ISIS posts online. His roommate even went so far as to testify in court that Hamdan had shown him violent, pro-terrorist videos.

In 2018, Hamdan expressed his concern over the continued attention his case has garnered, claiming to have PTSD from online harassment stemming from the public nature of his case, even attending therapy.

“I was found innocent from all of these false accusations but I’m still being incarcerated,” he said.

“Hamdan has repeatedly cited his acquittal at detention review hearings that have been held every 30 days since his incarceration,” reports the National Post. The Immigration and Refugee Board said the security allegations it reviews involve a different “standard of proof.”

In the Federal Court’s 2018 ruling, they determined that Hamdan was essentially a “Christian of convenience in order to get into Canada.”

“More specifically the Minister submits that Mr. Hamdan’s alleged conversion to Christianity was bogus and that he had failed to disclose that he was an international drug smuggler,” the report documents. “As such he was excluded from claiming refugee status because he had committed a serious non-political crime as set out in section F(1)(b) of the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, appended to IRPA.”

When asked about some of the outlandish things Hamdan has said or posted, his friends say that, “We’ve always thought he was just kind of full of sh*t.”

Judge Sean Harrington seems to agreewith these sentiments. “Mr. Hamdan is an unmitigated liar. One must wonder if he has uttered one truthful word since he came to Canada in 2002,” he said during his ruling.

Hamdan’s deportation will still be on the table if he is released from custody. However, he would be allowed to roam Canada semi-free while awaiting this final decision.

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