Suspect charged in Canada for plotting ‘IS-inspired attacks’

Othman Ayed Hamdan accused of calling for murders in the name of jihad; new law criminalizes promotion of terrorism

Fort St. John in British Columbia, Canada (YouTube screenshot)
Fort St. John in British Columbia, Canada (YouTube screenshot)

A man was arrested and charged in British Columbia Friday after allegedly posting material supporting the Islamic State group and calling for killings in the name of “jihad,” officials said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said 33-year-old Othman Ayed Hamdan of Fort St. John, about 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) 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 (IS) 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 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 criminalizes 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.

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