British Columbia

Man who praised ISIS on social media ordered deported from Canada

A B.C. man whose Facebook posts promoted ISIS and praised lone wolf terrorist attacks has been ordered deported from Canada.

Othman Hamdan of Fort St. John was acquitted of terrorism-related charges last year

Othman Hamdan was arrested in Fort St. John, B.C., in 2015. He is still being held in custody. (Brett Hyde/CBC)

A B.C. man whose Facebook posts promoted ISIS and praised lone wolf terrorist attacks has been ordered deported from Canada.

The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada has ruled that Othman Hamdan of Fort St. John is a "danger to the security of Canada" and is therefore inadmissible.

"While Mr. Hamdan has no history of violence, he has praised lone wolf attacks, actively promoted the Islamic State, disseminated instructions on how to commit attacks and seems fascinated with the extreme violence of the Islamic State demonstrated by possessing Islamic State videos depicting gruesome murders," IRB member Marc Tessler wrote in an Oct. 18 decision.

"Mr. Hamdan's threats take on a more sinister dimension when a fascination with violence is mixed with anger and resentment."

Despite the deportation order, Hamdan isn't likely to be removed from Canada anytime soon, though he remains in custody. There are still a number of outstanding legal matters to be decided, including the removal of his refugee status, before he can be deported.

Hamdan, a Jordanian national, says he moved to Canada from the U.S. in 2002 because of threats he'd received. He was granted refugee protection in 2004.

He was acquitted last year in B.C. Supreme Court of terrorism-related charges related to his Facebook posts, but was arrested by officers from the Canada Border Services Agency upon his release from custody.

85 posts on 14 Facebook accounts

During his immigration hearing, Hamdan had argued that his posts were an expression of free speech.

But Tessler said the material was dangerous because it encouraged others to commit terrorist attacks.

At issue were a total of 85 Facebook posts on 14 different accounts — Hamdan was forced to create new accounts every time the social media company disabled one for promoting terrorism, according to Tessler.

The posts included praise for Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the 2014 Parliament Hill shooter, and Martin Couture-Rouleau, who killed a soldier with his car in Quebec the same year.

Hamdan also posted a lengthy entry that Tessler described as a "how-to" for people hoping to carry out lone wolf attacks against non-Muslims.

"The post provides the reader with a menu of killing options, including slitting the victim's throat with a knife, hitting them over the head with a heavy object and then slitting their throat, stabbing victims while riding past them on a motorbike; poisoning, choking and shooting them with a firearm equipped with a silencer, taking a vehicle from a Christian or an apostate and using it run people over," Tessler wrote.

'Sadistic inhumanity'

Hamdan's immigration hearings also heard evidence about how he'd created some troubling graffiti inside his holding cell at the Vancouver law courts, including an attempted drawing of the Islamic State's flag.

One of his neighbours in the cells gave police a thumb drive belonging to Hamdan that was filled with videos about ISIS. It contained six videos that featured "the kind of sadistic inhumanity associated with the Islamic State, including manual beheadings and the shootings of individuals in the head at close range," Tessler wrote.

The judge who handled Hamdan's criminal trial ruled in 2017 that while Hamdan's comments were offensive, they didn't amount to incitement of terrorism. Hamdan was found not guilty of encouraging murder, assault and mischief for terrorist-related purposes, as well inducing and instructing someone to carry out a terrorist act.

However, as Tessler pointed out in his decision, immigration matters have a "considerably lower" burden of truth than criminal trials — the government only needs to prove there are reasonable grounds to believe an allegation is true.