Alleged ISIS supporter released after Federal Court rejects government’s appeal

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

An alleged ISIS supporter has been released from detention in British Columbia after the Federal Court dismissed the government’s attempt to keep him in custody while it tries to deport him.

Although Othman Ayed Hamdan has been deemed a danger to the security of Canada, on Tuesday the court upheld an Immigration and Refugee Board decision ordering his release.

“We can confirm that Mr. Hamdan is no longer in immigration detention,” the Canada Border Services Agency said on Thursday, adding he “continues to be under a removal order.”

The IRB ordered Hamdan’s deportation last October, citing the Jordanian’s online posts that supported ISIS, encouraged attacks and identified possible Canadian targets.

But he remains in Canada, arguing he will be in danger if sent back to Jordan.

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The case is the latest test of Canada’s pledge to crack down on online extremism as well as its ability to deport foreign citizens deemed security threats.

While Hamdan had been in immigration custody since 2017, on Aug. 2 the refugee board ordered him released to live in rural Enderby, B.C. with a friend who offered to post a $2,000 bond.

The CBSA appealed the decision to the Federal Court, arguing that letting Hamdan out of detention would put Canadians at risk.

But the court dismissed the appeal, allowing him to be freed on two dozen conditions, including bans on internet use, driving and possession of weapons.

The funeral of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, killed in an October 2014 terrorist attack in Quebec. On social media, Othman Hamdan allegedly called Vincent’s killer a “hero.” THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes. CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Graham Hughes

Hamdan first came to the attention of the RCMP over his Facebook posts following the 2014 terrorist attacks that killed two Canadian soldiers in Quebec and Ontario.

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Two years ago, a judge found him not guilty of terrorism, but because he is a foreign citizen, the CBSA arrested him to be processed for deportation back to Jordan.

A deportation order was issued on the grounds that Hamdan had served the ISIS “social media agenda,” encouraged “lone wolf” attacks and “identified infrastructure in Canada which could be targets for attack.”

But while acknowledging “there is a level of danger to the public that exists,” IRB member Geoff Rempel ordered his release last month, ruling the conditions he had imposed would mitigate those risks.

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ISIS supporter arrested in B.C. released from custody

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

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

The agency also said the bondsperson with whom Hamdan proposed living had also been his roommate when he made some of the online posts that led to his arrest, and had testified that Hamdan had showed him violent ISIS videos.

But Hamdan’s lawyer argued the allegations against Hamdan related only to “things he’s said/written and thought“ in the past and he had no history of violence.

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