Kevin Omar Mohamed is alleged to have encouraged terrorist activity through social media, his lawyer says
A man has been detained in a “preventive” arrest on fears of terrorism following an RCMP national security investigation in Toronto that police say is unrelated to the attacks in Brussels.
Kevin Omar Mohamed, 23, has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a dangerous weapon.
Police said he was taken into custody “pursuant to Section 810.011 [of the Criminal Code], Fear of Terrorism Offence.” He does not face any terrorism-related charges as yet.
“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 news release.
“While there was no indication of any plans for a domestic attack, we must remain committed to preventing individuals from travelling abroad to gain training and expertise that could be used in the planning and implementation of future attacks on Canadian soil.”
Mohamed’s lawyer, Anser Farooq, told CBC News the RCMP has been surveilling his client since 2014 and allege that he has been involved with facilitating and encouraging terrorist activity through the use of social media.
‘Interpretation’ of social media
“It’s an interpretation of the context and the words uttered by him in a social media context,” he said. “Somebody’s got to review this to determine whether it’s appropriate to have him on a peace bond.”
Farooq also said he is not aware of any prior convictions for Mohamed and that his client is somewhat confused at this time.
“It’s a lot to take in,” Farooq said. “He was arrested at 2 p.m. yesterday, so a lot of movement happens in that period of time.”
The RCMP say Mohamed’s arrest was part of “an extensive national security criminal investigation,” called Project SWAP, but aren’t releasing any further information about the reason for his arrest at this time.
Mohamed appeared in Brampton, Ont., court Saturday and remains in custody. His next court appearance is set for Tuesday morning.
Peace bond warranted?
“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 told CBC News.
“Whether or not it justifies a peace bond is something for the courts to determine,” he added.
Based on a fear that someone “will commit” a terrorism offence, police may obtain a peace bond, a tool that can mean jail unless a suspect abides by strict conditions — for instance, that they surrender their passport and regularly report to police.
Peace bonds have been increasingly used since 2001 for terrorism suspects — six of them related to members of the 2006 Toronto 18 plot, and most recently against Winnipeg man Aaron Driver for social media posts justifying the shootings on Parliament Hill in October 2014.
Anti-terrorism legislation introduced by the Conservative government under Bill C-51 in 2015 makes it easier for the RCMP to obtain peace bonds.