Refugee ISIS Supporter Threatened to Bomb RCMP HQ in Surrey
A gang-linked inmate in pretrial custody told police last December that his cell-mate, Othman Hamdan, had threatened to “blow up” RCMP headquarters in Surrey, an immigration hearing was told Monday.
Vancouver Police Detective Trevor Fraser said he was interviewing the inmate at North Fraser Pretrial Centre about an unrelated case when the man disclosed information about Hamdan — his roommate in segregation.
Fraser testified before Immigration and Refugee Board member Trent Cook that he didn’t know at that time who Hamdan was, but later learned about the RCMP terrorism investigation into the former Fort St. John resident.
Fraser said the gang inmate told him Hamdan was angry with the work RCMP translators did while investigating pro-Islamic State writings that Hamdan had posted to Facebook.
That was why Hamdan allegedly wanted to attack RCMP headquarters, Fraser said.
He said the inmate also disclosed that Hamdan had given him a USB stick with images of ISIS beheadings on it. The man offered the device to Fraser, who didn’t think he had legal grounds to seize it once he learned it was part of the criminal case against Hamdan.
On Sept. 22, Hamdan was acquitted by a B.C. Supreme Court judge of four terrorism charges that he had counselled others through his Facebook posts to commit murder, assault and mischief on behalf of ISIS.
Justice Bruce Butler said the evidence fell short of proving that Hamdan had tried to incite or encourage others to commit acts of terrorism, even though he celebrated that violence online.
Despite his acquittal, Hamdan has remained in custody while Border Services decides whether he should be allowed to stay in Canada.
Hamdan crossed into B.C. from the U.S. in 2002 and made a successful refugee claim based on his conversion to Christianity at the time. The Jordanian national never obtained Canadian citizenship or permanent residence status.
Border Services official Randal Hyland argued Monday that Hamdan is a danger to the public and should be detained until the agency completes its investigation into him.
Hyland called Fraser as a witness and read through parts of an RCMP threat assessment that indicated Hamdan might be more dangerous now than before his 2015 arrest because he feels victimized by the police investigation.
Hyland pointed to 85 posts Hamdan put on his 14 Facebook pages in 2014 and 2015 as evidence of the danger he poses.
Hamdan repeatedly praised lone-wolf terrorist attacks, reposted ISIS statements calling for lone wolves to “activate,” and described methods of killing, including with guns, explosives and even poison.
Hyland also cited an online conversation Hamdan had with an associate about enemies, during which he said: “Killing them is a duty.”
He told the associate to “form a small group around you of the people you trust and act, or act as a lone wolf.”
“Mr. Hamdan is giving instructions and he is advocating violence,” Hyland told Cook.
He said Hamdan progressed from being an ISIS supporter to seeing himself as a member of the terror group “prepared to die as a martyr.”
Some of tactics highlighted by Hamdan — killing with a knife or “running over, which is an encouraged method for killing” — were allegedly used in an attack in Edmonton on Saturday.
Hyland also said that Border Services has applied to revoke Hamdan’s refugee status.