An Ontario resident has been detained in what police are calling a “preventive” arrest over suspected affiliation with terrorist activity, or more specifically a “fear of terrorism” charge.
The accused, Kevin Omar Mohamed, 23, has additionally been charged with carrying a concealed weapon and being in possession of a dangerous weapon. According to his lawyer, Anser Farooq, the charges were related to a knife the accused had been in possession of at the time of his forceful detainment.
Police have since stated that Mohamed was taken into custody, in regards to the “pursuant to Section 810.011 [of the Criminal Code], Fear of Terrorism Offence.” Despite this, little is known about the circumstances of the arrest and Mohamed has still yet to be charged with any terrorism related offence.
“This arrest speaks to our ability to tackle a threat that is multifaceted and constantly evolving,” RCMP Supt. Lise Crouch, Assistant Criminal Operations, said in a press release.
“While there was no indication of any plans for a domestic attack, we must remain committed to preventing individuals from traveling abroad to gain training and expertise that could be used in the planning and implementation of future attacks on Canadian soil.”
Anser Farooq, the lawyer representing Mohamed has told CBC in an interview, that the RCMP had been watching his client since 2014, and alleges that he had been involved in facilitating and encouraging “terrorist activity” through the use of social media.
“It’s an interpretation of the context and the words uttered by him in a social media context,” stated Farooq. “Somebody’s got to review this to determine whether it’s appropriate to have him on a peace bond.”
In addition, Farooq has also stated that his client had no prior convictions [prior to being arrested by the RCMP.
“It’s a lot to take in,” stated Farooq. “He was arrested at 2:00 p.m. yesterday, so a lot of movement happens in that period of time.”
According to the RCMP, Mohamed’s arrest was part of a larger operation of “an extensive national security criminal investigation”, called SWAP. To date, the RCMP has not released any additional information about the arrest, except for the fact that Mohammed’s arrest was in no way related to the attack that occurred in Brussels.
Mohamed is expected to appear before a court on March 29th after briefly appearing in a Brampton, Ont., court early Saturday morning.
“The RCMP has been investigating and they have a belief at this point, which hasn’t been tested in court, that he may be a threat to the security of Canada – and they’re following up on that by having him arrested. They haven’t charged him with the offences,” Farooq stated in an press release.
“Whether or not it justifies a peace bond is something for the courts to determine,” he added.
As it stands, if police determine that someone “will commit” a potential terrorist act, police are allowed to obtain a peace bond, which essentially means that a suspect can be jailed unless they abide by a strict set of guidelines and conditions. This can include but is not limited to, forcing the accused to surrender their passport and report to police for regular meetings.
Since 2001, police in Canada have been increasingly using peace bonds for citizens suspected of terrorist activity, with six bonds issued to various members of 2006’s Toronto 18 plot, as well as against Winnipeg citizen Aaron Driver, for his posts on social media that justified the shooting on Parliament Hill in October 2014.
In addition to peace bonds, various anti-terrorism legislation introduced by the Conservative government under Bill C-51 in 2015 has made the process of arresting Canadians for potential terrorist activity much easier.