A man who posted online naming the Revelstoke Dam as a potential terrorist target may soon be released from detainment while he awaits deportation.
Othman Ayed Hamdan was detained by Canada Border Services Agency in 2017 after sharing messages of support for ISIS online. He was deemed a “danger to the security of Canada” by the Immigration and Refugee Board.
If released, Hamdan said he would stay in Enderby with a friend. The town is roughly 100 km from Revelstoke and its dam.
The release would have 25 conditions, that could, according to the detention review transcripts, include a bond of $2,000, curfew between midnight and 6 a.m., no internet access or unaccompanied vehicle travel, no weapons, daily voice reports and in-person reporting to a RCMP office.
Enderby Mayor Greg McCune said Aug. 4 he was not given any notice by any government agency of Hamdan’s release and that Enderby was the preferred destination.
On Monday, Aug. 12, a hearing took place between the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Hamdan, and the Federal Court ruled Hamdan must remain in custody, pending the determination of the Minister’s application for leave and judicial review of the release order.
The decision was welcomed by the Canada Border Services Agency.
“While immigration detention is a last resort, it remains an essential tool for the protection of the health and safety of Canadians, and to maintain the security of Canadian society,” said Joelle Shelton, Western Canada communications advisor for CSBA.
McCune, on Aug. 14, was still extremely angry over the situation.
“It’s super frustrating,” he said. “I’m mostly disappointed in the process. I’m shocked we weren’t consulted and shocked the RCMP weren’t consulted.”
Immigration and Refugee board member Geoff Rempel ruled on Aug. 2 that it was not right to keep detaining Hamden and that he should be released.
“In my view, with appropriate conditions of release, he is not a danger to the public,” he said in the review documents.
However, the federal court later issued an interim stay of release and is currently reviewing the Immigration Division’s decision. There is no date given for when Hamdan would be deported.
In an interview with the CBC, former CSIS and RCMP operative Mubin Shaikh said Hamdan’s potential release is a serious situation.
“He should definitely not be released.”
Hamdan should remain in custody until deportation, he continued.
Mayor Gary Sulz of Revelstoke echoed those concerns.
“Why isn’t he just being deported?”
Sulz continued that there will have to be great trust in those monitoring him, including the RCMP, that they will not let Hamdan go near Revelstoke.
Hamdan is a Jordanian national and moved to Canada from the U.S. in 2002 because of threats and was granted refugee protection in 2004.
In 2015, he was arrested in Fort St. John for 85 Facebook posts that promoted ISIS and praised lone wolf terrorist attacks, but was later acquitted of terror charges in a B.C. court.
At the time of the arrest, Const. Terak Mokdad told an immigration admissibility hearing that Hamdan was a security risk and that the translated Arabic posts clearly showed the man was becoming radicalized.
The Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada then revoked his refugee status and Hamdan awaits deportation. Hamdan has argued that he was falsely accused of terrorism and has sued the B.C. and Canadian governments.
In an email response to Hamdan’s potential release, B.C. Hydro spokesperson Jen Walker-Larsen wrote, “We safely maintain and operate 79 dams at 41 locations around the province. We have extensive security systems and emergency management plans in place to monitor and respond to any threats. We are partnered with various government, law enforcement, intelligence agencies and other utilities who share information across Canada. We monitor this information and conduct real time risk assessments daily for all of our facilities to make sure they stay safe and secure.”
The reservoir behind the Revelstoke dam has a capacity of 1.5183 kilometres cubed, which would fill 607,320 Olympic-size swimming pools. It’s the second from the headwaters of 14 dams along the Columbia River and less than 10 km upstream of the nearest city–Revelstoke.