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Immigration board orders B.C. ISIS supporter detained

Kim Bolan, Postmedia Network

Facebook has removed these pages for inappropriate content. The Sun has learned that Othman Hamdan allegedly posted comments counselling murder and other acts of violence on these Facebook pages. (File Photo)

Facebook has removed these pages for inappropriate content. The Sun has learned that Othman Hamdan allegedly posted comments counselling murder and other acts of violence on these Facebook pages. (File Photo)

A B.C. man who posted violent online rhetoric in support of terrorist attacks and the Islamic State has been ordered detained by the Immigration and Refugee Board pending a full hearing on his status in Canada.

Board member Trent Cook said Thursday that he believes Othman Hamdan would be a danger to the public if released from custody before an admissibility hearing later this fall.

Hamdan, 35, was acquitted in B.C. Supreme Court on Sept. 22 of four terrorism charges related to dozens of controversial pro-ISIS posts. But he was not released after the Canada Border Services Agency deemed he may not qualify to remain in the country.

Cook said he believes that Hamdan would immediately return to posting pro-ISIS comments on Facebook and may engage in violence himself if he is freed from immigration custody.

Despite his court acquittal, the pro-ISIS propaganda could incite others to violence, the board member said.

“These actions may not be criminal, but that doesn’t mean they are not dangerous," Cook said. “I am satisfied that if released ... you would engage in dangerous activity that would put the Canadian public at risk.”

Cook said that Hamdan's online support for his extremist beliefs was an "obsession."

“I am satisfied that you will continue to be active in the online community by posting your own material and reposting other material that celebrates and encourages acts of terrorism and violence in instances where you believe that such acts are justified," Cook said.

"I am satisfied that based on your mindset, past conduct and current life circumstances that ... you personally would be likely to engage in behaviour beyond your Internet posts that would put the Canadian public at risk."

Cook said comments by Hamdan threatening police officers who worked on his case “is a disturbing and dangerous aspect of your personality.”

“It tells me that anyone at any time who may act contrary to your interests need be concerned with the potential and likelihood that you would react or retaliate with violence,” he said.

The Canada Border Services Agency is investigating whether Hamdan is inadmissible to live in Canada because of his stated support for the terrorist group.

Hamdan crossed into Canada from Washington State in 2002 and made a successful refugee claim on the basis that he had converted to Christianity. A Palestinian with Jordanian citizenship, Hamdan later abandoned his new faith. He has worked in construction across B.C. over the years and never obtained either Canadian citizenship or permanent residency.

The Immigration Board has to power to detain non-citizens if they are a potential security risk or danger to the public.

Canada Border Services Agency official Randal Hyland argued earlier this week that Hamdan is dangerous and should remain in custody pending the completion of the agency investigation.

But Hamdan’s lawyer Peter Edelmann told Cook that Hamdan should be released because he was acquitted of all charges and that there are alternatives to custody.

The Canada Border Services Agency has applied to revoke Hamdan’s refugee status and has requested an admissibility hearing be held later this fall.

Hyland also said Hamdan was too dangerous to release into the community because he told another jail inmate that he was going to blow up RCMP headquarters in Surrey.

A Vancouver police officer testified that Hamdan gave the cellmate a USB stick containing photos of ISIS beheadings and said he knew how to make bombs using static electricity.

The RCMP began uncovering Hamdan’s Facebook comments starting in the fall of 2014 after a former Vancouver resident killed a soldier and attacked the House of Commons in Ottawa.

Hamdan praised the attack online and repeatedly encouraged “lone wolves” to commit acts of violence.

kbolan@postmedia.com