A young Ottawa man is the subject of a new terror-related peace bond application by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, VICE News has learned.
On June 11th, the RCMP filed documents outlining fears that 24-year-old Abdulmuti Mohamed Elmi “may commit a terrorism offence” by participating, directly or indirectly, with the activities of a terrorist group, or by leaving or attempting to leave Canada.
The application against Elmi was brought forward by Constable Claude Champagne, who is listed on court documents as an officer in Ottawa.
Elmi is also facing a number of criminal charges ranging from assault with a weapon to mischief and breaches.
“We can confirm that the RCMP requested the peace bond under Section 810.011 of the Criminal Code,” RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Marie Damian told VICE News in an email Wednesday evening. “We have no further comment as the matter is before the courts.”
Details on Elmi’s case are scant. He made a brief appearance in an Ottawa courtroom on Thursday morning via video link from jail, where he remains in custody. Wearing an orange jumpsuit, he said only his name. His lawyer, Jessica Abou-Eid, was not present at court, but sent a message requesting the matter be adjourned until Friday morning.
Terror-related peace bonds are a contentious counter-terrorism tool typically pursued by police to restrict an individual’s movements and freedom — through bail-like conditions — in situations where they fear someone may commit an act of terror, but where there may not be enough evidence to lay a formal criminal charge. The threshold to lay an official terrorism-related charge in Canada is high, whereas peace bonds have a lower burden of proof.
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Police have used them less frequently over the last year. There are currently only two people in Canada on active anti-terror peace bonds. It can take months for the court to adjudicate peace bond applications.
The RCMP is asking that Elmi “be ordered to enter into a recognizance [peace bond] for a period not exceeding twelve months with the conditions fixed by the judge or committed to prison for a term not exceeding twelve months if [he] fails or refuses to enter into the recognizance.”
Elmi's lawyer Jessica Abou-Eid would not provide comment on her client when reached by phone on Wednesday morning.
“I don’t really have authorization to speak to any reporters or anything,” said Abou-Eid, who hung up after she added: “I can’t speak about anything. Thank you.”
A Crown prosecutor listed on the court documents in the Elmi matter read but did not respond to an email from VICE News.
A phone number listed online for Elmi’s address on the court document was not in service on Wednesday morning.
In 2016, VICE News first reported on a peace bond application against another Ottawa man, Tevis Gonyou-McLean, also 24 years old, who was arrested by RCMP officers who sought a peace bond based on fears that he would participate in terrorism, but that peace bond has expired. Gonyou-McLean was also charged with a number of criminal offences at the time. His arrest came just days after known Islamic State support Aaron Driver was shot and killed by police as he was leaving his home in southern Ontario armed with a makeshift explosive device.
At the time, Driver, then 24 years old, was living under a terror-related peace bond with a number of strict conditions including that he seek permission to use a cell phone and stay off social media. His case fueled ongoing concerns among experts over the efficacy of anti-terror peace bonds.
In addition to the terror-related peace bond application against Elmi, there are pending applications against John Nuttall and Amanda Korody, the British Columbia couple found to have been entrapped by the RCMP and manipulated into plotting to detonate a bomb in front of the provincial legislature. That entrapment decision is currently being appealed, and the couple is out on bail pending a decision on the peace bond.
In May, Montreal couple Sabrine Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali entered into a year-long terror-related peace bond and agreed to abide by a number of conditions including keeping the peace and being on good behaviour. Djermane and Jamali were acquitted last December on charges that they would leave Canada to join Islamic State militants in Syria.
With files from Vanmala Subramaniam
Cover Image: RCMP National Division Facebook