Federal Court halts release of alleged online ISIS supporter

The arrest of Othman Ayad Hamdan in 2015. Global News file

The Federal Court has temporarily halted the release of an alleged ISIS supporter while it reviews a decision ordering him to be freed to a small town in British Columbia.

A judge granted the urgent interim stay after the Immigration and Refugee Board said Othman Hamdan could live in Enderby, B.C., with a friend who had agreed to post a $2,000 bond.

After IRB member Geoff Rempel’s release decision was handed down late Friday, the Canada Border Services Agency asked the court to delay freeing Hamdan so it could appeal the ruling.

The court said it was “satisfied that the circumstances warrant the issuance of an urgent interim stay to be granted” and said Hamdan would remain in custody until a hearing was held.

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Justice Martine St-Louis ordered that a transcript of the IRB hearing and decision be delivered to the court within four days and that a hearing take place “as soon as practicable.”

Hamdan, a 37-year-old Jordanian citizen, has been declared a danger to Canada’s security over online posts that supported ISIS, encouraged “lone wolf” attacks and identified specific targets in Canada.

He has been stripped of the refugee status he was granted in 2004 and ordered deported back to Jordan, but on Friday the IRB nonetheless decided to release him from detention.

Rempel said the more than two dozen conditions he had imposed on Hamdan — including a ban on driving, possession of weapons and posting on the internet — would mitigate the risks.

The Revelstoke Dam, which the CBSA said was “specifically identified as a potential target for a terrorist attack” in Othman Hamdan’s Facebook posts. B.C. Hydro

“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,” he said.

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His decision acknowledged “there is a level of danger to the public that exists,” but referred to the “change in circumstances in Syria and Iraq” and the failure of ISIS.

The CBSA had argued that Hamdan needed to remain in custody while the CBSA took steps to deport him, and questioned releasing him to Enderby, which is less than 90-minutes from the Revelstoke Dam.

The dam was “specifically identified as a potential target for a terrorist attack” in Hamdan’s Facebook posts, said the CBSA, which called his release plan “woefully inadequate.”

In its court application to appeal Hamdan’s release, the government argued the IRB had “erred in law,” “based its decision on an erroneous finding of fact” and “acted, or failed to act, by reason of fraud or perjured evidence.”

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Hamdan was born in Abu Dhabi but is a citizen of Jordan. He crossed into Canada from the United States in 2002 and was accepted as a refugee in 2004 on the basis he feared persecution because he had converted to Christianity.

A Federal Court judge later called him an “unmitigated liar,” and wrote that: “One must wonder if he has uttered one truthful word since he came to Canada in 2002.”

Hamdan has said he fears he will be killed if Canada sends him back to Jordan.

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