News Americas, OTTAWA, Canada, Weds. Mar. 30, 2016: A 23-year-old former Canadian engineering student whose roots extend to Guyana was officially charged Tuesday with participating in the activities of a terrorist group.
Kevin Omar Mohamed, a former student of the University of Waterloo and the J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate in Ajax in 2010, was formally charged three days after he was detained over fears he might commit a terrorist act. Mohamed appeared briefly in a Toronto area court to face the charge that he participated in, or contributed to, the activities of a terrorist group over a two-year period.
Mohamed, 23, of no fixed address, was remanded until April 19th for a bail hearing that prosecutor Sarah Shaikh said could last two or three days.
In a statement after the new charge was laid Tuesday, the RCMP said the arrest followed an “extensive” investigation dubbed “Project Swap” that began last August amid suspicion that Mohamed had traveled to Turkey in April 2014 to join Jabhat Al-Nusra, a listed terrorist entity in Canada. Mohamed returned to Canada a month later, police allege.
“We were able to not only disrupt this threat to our country’s national security, but also to bring this individual before the Canadian justice system,” the Mounties said in the statement.
“At no time during the course of this investigation was there any risk to public safety.”
Mohamed was arrested Friday in Waterloo, Ont., under a recent law that essentially allows detention without charge. Police also charged him with two minor weapons offences related to his alleged possession of a hunting knife.
He watched closely but said little during the five-minute appearance in which he appeared in handcuffs before being led back to jail.
His lawyer, Anser Farooq, said his client had been brought to court Tuesday expecting to sign a peace bond and get released; his father had brought him fresh clothes. Instead Mohamed found himself charged with a crime that carries a maximum 10 years in prison.
Farooq said he had little idea of what evidence police might have to back up their allegations but said he hoped to know more next week. He also said he saw little reason Mohamed should not be able to win bail.
Mohamed, on his Facebook page, listed himself as a Sunni Muslim. Back in 2014 on his Facebook page, he had insisted: “Misguided groups like ISIS don’t represent me,” while adding: ” I can’t understand how some Muslims legitimize attacking innocent non-combatants. Where did they learn that is fine?”
About 60 Canadians who traveled abroad to join terror groups are now back in the country, and another 180 are estimated to be overseas engaged with extremists, Canada’s spy chief Michel Coulombe told a newspaper last month.