TORONTO—The lawyer of a man arrested because police believe he might commit a terrorist act says he doesn’t know what prompted the investigation into his client.
Police arrested 23-year-old Kevin Omar Mohamed under a little-used section of the Criminal Code relating to terrorism. But Anser Farooq, who is Mohamed’s lawyer, says he doesn’t know why the RCMP were investigating the Ontario man or the specifics of why they think he might commit an act of terrorism.
The RCMP issued a news release saying Mohamed was arrested under a Criminal Code provision known as fear of terrorism.
The provision was tweaked last year as part of the former Conservative government’s controversial Bill C-51, which allowed police to arrest someone—with consent of the attorney general—on grounds they may commit a terrorist offence.
Previously, police had to believe someone actually would carry out the crime. A charge is not laid under the rarely used provision.
Farooq was in a Toronto-area court with Mohamed on Saturday morning. He said the Crown told the court it wasn’t sure whether the RCMP would be charging Mohamed with any terror-related offences.
The only charges police have laid against Mohamed are for carrying a concealed weapon and possession of a weapon dangerous to public peace.
Farooq said the weapon was a knife that police allege is illegal.
Police said there is no evidence of any plans of a domestic terrorism attack and the RCMP specified that the suspect’s arrest is not linked to recent terrorist attacks in Brussels.
But still, Farooq said that they want Mohamed to sign a peace bond, which is a court order to abide by certain conditions.
Wesley Wark, an expert on national security, said that peace bonds are used when police “want to limit the freedom of an individual” but don’t have enough evidence to charge or convict that person for a crime.
“The conditions vary with the circumstances of the case, but usually involve restrictions on movement and communication. They can even involve a requirement for electronic monitoring through the wearing of things like an ankle bracelet,” Wark said in an email.
Peace bonds are awarded on a balance of probabilities, rather than the stricter standard of criminal cases, which require proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That means that the Crown needs only to prove that Mohamed is likely to commit a terrorist act for the bond to be awarded.
Farooq said he may recommend Mohamed sign the peace bond if that’s the only way to get him out of jail.
“The first thing is, we have to get him out. And then we can deal with the rest of the stuff.”
It wasn’t clear what Ontario community Mohamed was from or precisely where he was arrested.
Mohamed is due in court again on Tuesday to face the allegations against him.