An Ontario man convicted of supporting an al-Qaeda-affiliated terror group has been rearrested after national security officials learned of information suggesting he “may pose a risk to public safety,” the RCMP says.
Kevin Omar Mohamed, 27, was first arrested in 2016 on the University of Waterloo campus after being found with a hunting knife, work gloves, a large quantity of money and handwritten notes taken down from al-Qaeda publications on how to plan and carry out an attack.
He was sentenced to four and a half years behind bars — after pleading guilty to supporting Jabhat al-Nusra — and released in 2019 after receiving two and a half years of credit for time served.
But in the months since, the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) says Mohamed was twice rearrested — once on July 8 for allegedly breaching his probation order by having a device capable of accessing the internet, and again on Sunday on a peace bond meant to “mitigate the risk of him committing a terrorist-related offence.”
In the days leading up to his August arrest, the RCMP say they turned up information suggesting Mohammed might pose a public safety risk. They say police searched two residences on Sunday that Mohamed was associated with.
“The RCMP and our law enforcement and intelligence partners continue to monitor and assess the threat that individuals that possess ideologically motivated extremist views pose to public safety, particularly those on court imposed conditions as a result of their previous convictions for terrorism related offences,” the service said in a news release Monday.
A decision by the Parole Board of Canada last year noted Mohamed had not participated in “any interventions geared toward deradicalization,” noting there was “no evidence” that he was committed to changing his “extremist ideological beliefs.”
The board noted it was “very concerned” Mohamed could continue to present a “significant risk to the community.”
The decision indicated Mohamed travelled to Turkey in 2014 where he met with members of the Syria-based Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front, and was smuggled to Syria in the trunk of a car, only returning home after his brother flew to Turkey to meet him. The group was considered a terrorist organization by Canada and other countries. It has morphed and renamed itself several times since.
Back in Canada, police said Mohamed promoted violence and tweeted out support for terrorist activities online under the pseudonym “Abu Jayyid,” leaving his Whitby, Ont., home in February 2016 after an argument with his mother and ending up on the street.
Police tracked him for nearly a week until he suddenly went offline upon withdrawing $3,500 from his bank account.
He was arrested in March 2016 after being found sleeping in empty rooms on his university campus, and convicted in 2017.
Following his release, he was to be subject to three years of probation.
Speaking to CBC News last year, Mohamed’s lawyer Paul Slansky said his client’s motivation had been “to help Syrians with the humanitarian crisis.
“However, he recognized that he went about it the wrong way,” Slansky said.