Man arrested in alleged online threat case released under strict conditions

By , on March 31, 2016

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MONTREAL—A man who was arrested after a Montreal police operation that was triggered by a video he allegedly published is disputing an accusation he sparked terror fears.

Omar Elabi, 20, was released on several strict conditions Thursday, two days after an online threat that was later deemed unfounded.

Police allege he circulated a video and that it possibly involved explosives.

About 200 people were forced to leave their homes as a precaution, while commuter train service was interrupted at a nearby station. No explosives were found.

Elabi doesn’t face any criminal charges for now, but the Crown wants him to sign a peace bond due to causing terror fears.

The measure restricts the activities of possible criminals and allows authorities to keep a close eye on them. Prosecutors have sought the bond against several Canadians in the past year.

Alexandre Goyette, Elabi’s lawyer, says his client doesn’t agree with the prosecution.

“It’s not an accusation for which there will be a criminal record,” Goyette said of the bond. “But he’s not recognizing the fact he would have created fear for a terrorist action.”

Elabi briefly appeared in court while the Crown outlined seven conditions, including limiting his Internet access; forbidding his use of IP-blocking technology; prohibiting him from consulting online terrorist doctrine; and forbidding him from possessing weapons.

Asked by the judge if he would comply with the rules, Elabi replied, “of course,” as his father looked on from the public gallery.

Goyette described Elabi as a student without a previous criminal record who was in shock over the reaction.

He declined to speculate whether the incident was a prank gone awry.

“He had no criminal intention,” Goyette said. “He was very surprised by the number of police officers implicated in the file.”

Montreal police said Tuesday the “nature of the threat” led to RCMP and Quebec provincial police involvement.

Elabi’s older brother, Sami Elabi, is an alleged Canadian jihadist who has been fighting in Syria since 2013 according to various reports and whose name has come up in legal proceedings.

“I know some of his family members are known to the media but he (Omar) wasn’t known to any police service,” said Goyette.

The case returns to court May 30.