RCMP arrest 23-year-old Ontario man suspected of plotting to leave Canada to engage in terrorism

—The day after he was arrested by RCMP anti- police, a 23-year-old appeared in court Saturday to face weapons charges and allegations he was preparing to leave to engage in .

Kevin Omar Mohamed was arrested by members of the Toronto-based Integrated National Security Enforcement Team as part of an ongoing counter-terrorism investigation called Project Swap, the RCMP said.

He was charged with possession of a weapon dangerous to public peace and carrying a concealed weapon, and Sgt. Adam MacIntosh told a provincial court judge in Brampton the investigation was probing five anti-terrorism offenses.

While he has not yet been charged with any terrorism offenses, Sgt. MacIntosh said police have reasonable grounds to believe he would leave Canada to participate in terrorism, advocate or promote terrorism and facilitate terrorist activity.

The RCMP is seeking a peace bond that would impose conditions on Mohamed’s conduct. Under Canada’s anti-terrorism law, police can seek peace bonds against those they suspect may be about to commit terrorism offences.

Conditions can include staying off the Internet and surrendering passports. Peace bond cases must be approved by the Attorney General, who provided signed consent in this case. He was scheduled to return to court on Tuesday.

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“This arrest speaks to our ability to tackle a threat that is multifaceted and constantly evolving,” RCMP Superintendent Lise Crouch, the Assistant Criminal Operations Officer in Ontario, said in a statement Saturday afternoon.

“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.”

The RCMP said Durham Police Services and Ontario Provincial Police played “a significant role in this case,” which they emphasized was “in no way linked to the terrorist attacks that occurred in Brussels.”

Mohamed’s lawyer Anser Farooq said his client was a former University of Waterloo student. “He’s okay, a little confused,” he said. Peace bonds are being used increasingly by Canadian police against suspected extremists.

Prof. Amarnath Amarasingam, who has been researching Canadian foreign fighters, said Mohamed was “Guyanese by background” and described by friends as socially awkward and always feeling out of place. On social media, where he was known as Abu Jayyid, the former engineering student wavered between supporting ISIL and opposing it, he said.

The arrest came amid security concerns following last Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Belgium, which killed 31 and highlighted the problem of Western foreign fighters returning from Syria to wage violence against their home countries.

Responding to the Brussels bombings last week, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called Canada “fundamentally a safe and peaceful nation,” adding that, “At this moment we have no reason to change Canada’s threat level.”

But violent extremism is a growing problem in Canada. About 180 people “with a nexus to Canada” are active in overseas terrorism — including 100 in Syria and Iraq alone, according to the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Another 60 have returned to Canada after engaging in terrorist activity, while 90 to 100 have not left Canada but want to, Michel Coulombe testified during a March 7 appearance before the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

National Post

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