Winnipeg ISIS supporter Aaron Driver to stay in custody for 2 more weeks

A Winnipeg man who openly supports ISIS on Twitter remains in custody but still not charged with anything.

Driver not charged with criminal offence but RCMP concerned he could get involved in terrorist act

Winnipeg ISIS supporter Aaron Driver to stay in custody for 2 more weeks

8 years ago
Duration 2:26
A Winnipeg man who openly supports ISIS on Twitter remains in custody but still not charged with anything.

A Winnipeg man who openly supports ISIS on Twitter remains in custody but is still not charged with anything.

Aaron Driver is being held in custody on suspicion of terrorist activity after his Charleswood-area home was raided by RCMP last week.

Driver had been noticed and observed by CSIS — Canada's spy agency — for his pro-ISIS activity on Twitter, using the name Harun Abdurahman.

His lawyer, Cam Pauls, appeared in court Tuesday on Driver's behalf, setting the next court date to June 24. 
RCMP officers ​raided Aaron Driver's (pictured) rental home in the city's Charleswood neighbourhood last Thursday. (Facebook)

The RCMP have applied for a peace bond to place certain conditions on Driver before he is released from custody. Pauls is working with Driver to determine whether his client will agree to the peace bond conditions.

Pauls is also putting together a bail application.

Even though Driver has not been charged with a criminal offence, RCMP say they're concerned he could get involved in terrorist activity, which allows them to keep him in custody.

Ian Mahon, Manitoba's chief federal prosecutor, said a peace bond application acts somewhat like a charge. A bail application could take place first, or the peace bond application could happen — either one allowing Driver out of custody. 
Aaron Driver is still in the custody of RCMP in Winnipeg on suspicion of terrorist activity and support for the militant Islamic group ISIS. (Facebook)

Jeff Gindin, who has been a defence lawyer for more than four decades, calls the case unusual. He says it is contrary to all basic principles of criminal law.

"So far there's no real law that I'm aware of that when you think someone might commit an offence that you would then have the right to arrest them prior to that," said Gindin, who is not representing Driver, but is following the case out of interest.

Using social media for evidence is becoming more common, he said.

"Normally, you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt to charge someone with an offence. Here you have to have some reason to suspect that they may be contributing in some way to terrorist activity," Gindin said.

Neighbours shocked by allegations

People who knew Driver when he lived in Winnipeg's St. James area up until about a year ago said Tuesday they were surprised to hear he is now suspected of being involved with terrorist activities. 

Driver lived in the neighbourhood with his father and step-mother.

Alex Petley's home is nearby. 

"Actually I never really [saw] him go out. The only time I ever [saw] him was [when he was] doing yard work," Petley said.

Aaron Driver, who used the name Harun Abdurahman, texted this message to CBC's Caroline Barghout recently. Driver is being held in custody on suspicion of terrorist activity. (CBC)
"He did not come across as twisted or doing bad things or anything like that," he said.

Another neighbour who did not want to be named said Driver like heavy metal music. 

Linda Easton who also lives in the area said people knew his parents but their son kept to himself. 

She said the allegations are shocking.

"Very surprising. I'm shocked actually because he just seemed like a clean-cut kid who helped his dad out," she said. 

"I saw him outside cutting grass and things like that," Easton said. "But I've never really talked to him and he mostly seemed to keep out of sight." 

Before moving to Manitoba in 2011, Driver spent time in Edmonton with his brother, but he grew up in London, Ont., where it's believed he converted to Islam as a teenager. 

Driver's mother died when he was 7. His father worked in the military and the family moved around a lot. The father later remarried, and the couple came to Winnipeg in 2009. 

Driver was 19 when he followed them to Manitoba in 2011. The family moved to Alberta last year after his father was posted at a base near Edmonton.

'I don't care that they monitor me'

But Driver, who was by then 23, rented a room at the Charleswood house that was raided last week.

CBC's Caroline Barghout has been in touch with Driver though a number of texts. 

"I don't care that they monitor me," he said in one text.

"[CSIS] and the [RCMP] are both investigating me. They can punish me for nothing more than speech and spreading news.  If they were to imprison me, it gives legitimacy to Muslims in the west who support dawla, and rallies support. If they leave me, I continue tweeting and we continue to grow ... It's a win win."

Driver remains in custody arrested on a peace bond but he has not yet been charged with a crime.

He's expected to apply for bail on June 24.