Suspect charged in Canada for plotting ISIS-inspired attacks

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said 33-year-old Othman Ayed Hamdan of Fort St John, about 1,200 km north of Vancouver, was charged on three counts.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said 33-year-old Othman Ayed Hamdan of Fort St John, about 1,200 km north of Vancouver, was charged on three counts.PHOTO: AFP

OTTAWA (AFP) - A man was arrested and charged in British Columbia on Friday after allegedly posting material supporting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and calling for killings in the name of "jihad," officials said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said 33-year-old Othman Ayed Hamdan of Fort St John, about 1,200 km north of Vancouver, was charged on three counts.

He is accused of counseling to commit murder, counseling to assault causing bodily harm and counseling to commit aggravated assault - all "for the benefit of a terrorist group," according to an RCMP statement.

"Hamdan was involved in posting pro-Islamic State (ISIS) propaganda online which included inducement and instructions to commit murder in the name of jihad," the statement said.

Hamdan, who has been under investigation since October 2014, is in custody and is expected to appear in court shortly.

The RCMP said "a number of items" were seized from his residence.

"We were able to arrest this individual and disrupt his efforts to harm citizens across the country," said RCMP Superintendent Dan Bond, an assistant criminal operations officer for national security.

Canadian lawmakers passed new anti-terror measures this year, in response to attacks on Canadian soil last October, when a gunman shot dead a ceremonial guard and then stormed parliament, and a soldier was run over and killed in rural Quebec.

The toughened stance has drawn criticism from those who say it violates civil rights and say the law is too broad and lacks oversight.

Officials defended the measure on Friday after Hamdan's arrest, and said that the government would remain vigilant.

"It is clear that the terrorism threat is real. The international jihadist movement has declared war on Canada," said Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney.

"That is why our government passed the anti-terrorism act... which enhances the ability of our police officers to detain suspected terrorists before they can harm Canadians."

The law criminalises the promotion of terrorism, makes it easier for police to arrest and detain individuals without charge and expands the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's mandate from intelligence-collection to actively thwarting terror plots and spying outside Canada.