Deportation hearing begins for alleged ISIS supporter arrested in B.C.

The casket of warrant officer Patrice Vincent leaves the church after funeral services November 1, 2014 in Longueuil, Quebec. On social media, Othman Hamdan allegedly called Vincent's killer a "hero." THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

An RCMP officer testified Monday that he had found “clear support” for the so-called Islamic State in the online posts of Othman Ayed Hamdan, a B.C. resident facing deportation.

At the start of a hearing to decide whether Hamdan should be deported as a danger to Canada’s security, Const. Tarek Mokdad said the Facebook posts were a “cause for concern.”

“I found clear support for the Islamic State,” Const. Mokdad, a member of the RCMP’s national security division, testified at the Immigration and Refugee Board hearing.

The officer cited several posts that appeared to incite attacks in Canada and identified infrastructure, such as B.C.’s Revelstoke Dam and the Nipigon River Bridge in Ontario.

The Nipigon River bridge carrying part of the Trans-Canada Highway near Nipigon, Ont., is seen Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

Hamdan was acquitted of terrorism charges last September, but he is not a Canadian citizen and immigration officials are now trying to deport him on security grounds.

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Appearing as a witness by video conference as the hearing got underway in Vancouver, Const. Mokdad said that in April 2015, the RCMP asked him to examine 85 of Hamdan’s social media posts and offer his expert opinion.

The Facebook posts, made under several aliases, suggested Hamdan was “buying into the cause of the Islamic State,” Mokdad said. “And also, I found data to clearly illustrate that material support was being offered online for anyone to act upon.”

READ MORE: B.C. man acquitted of terrorism charges files lawsuit against government

The day after ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani called for terrorist attacks in Canada, Hamdan posted a message saying that security at B.C.’s Revelstoke dam was “weak,” Mokdad said.

The following day, Hamdan wrote: “Muslims of Canada. For a low cost … less than $200 and with it you will receive a licence to purchase explosives and to carry a weapon.”

The next day he wrote that the Nipigon River Bridge was important to Canada’s economy but had “zero” security.

Mokdad said he wrote two reports about the posts for the investigation, Project Scollop, but they were not entered as evidence at Hamdan’s terrorism trial.

The deportation hearing was scheduled to finish in May. A separate hearing to revoke Hamdan’s refugee status took place on April 6. Meanwhile, Hamdan is being detained at Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge, B.C.

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Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, IS’s spokesman and chief strategist. (Militant Photo via AP)
Abu Muhammed al-Adnani, IS’s spokesman and chief strategist. (Militant Photo via AP). (Militant Photo via AP)

Hamdan was born in Abu Dhabi and later became a citizen of Jordan. At 18, he moved to the United States but arrived at the Canadian border in 2002 and made a successful refugee claim.

He came to the attention of the RCMP as a result of Project Savvy, set up following the October 2014 attacks in Quebec and Ontario to identify potential security threats. After monitoring his online accounts, the RCMP launched an investigation that led to Hamdan’s arrest.

The B.C. Supreme Court judge who acquitted Hamdan was cautious about Const. Mokdad’s testimony, ruling that, “His narrow focus inclined him to the view that any reference to or re-publication of ISIS material must be made by someone intending to promote the goals of that organization.”

Since shortly after the acquittal, Hamdan’s immigration proceedings had been taking place behind closed doors, but Global News successfully fought the publication ban, allowing reporters to cover the hearings.

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Hamdan has said his posts were incorrectly translated, taken out of context and were not incitement. “I’m an innocent person that is sitting in jail based on mere allegations and on charges that I’ve been acquitted of,” he said.

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