An Ontario man charged with participating in a terrorist group abroad has been denied bail, a justice of the peace announced in a Brampton courtroom on Wednesday.
The decision comes after two men from the Greater Toronto Area were arrested at the airport upon returning from Turkey for allegedly planning to join in terror-related acts. They have not been charged, and were released on peace bonds.
Kevin Mohamed, a 23-year-old former engineering student, was arrested by The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) last month in Waterloo. The RCMP has accused him of traveling to Turkey in 2014 to join Jabhat al Nusra, a branch of al Qaeda located in Syria. Mohamed — who reportedly lives on the same street as one of the men just placed on peace bonds — also faces two charges related to the possession of a knife.
Mohamed's bail hearing took place over three days last week, but as is usually the case, the proceedings and reasons why he was denied bail are under a publication ban.
Mohamed's lawyer, Anser Farooq, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News, but told reporters earlier this month he was confident his client would be released on bail.
Farooq, who has represented a number of individuals facing terror-related charges, said even some of those charged for being involved in the Toronto 18 terror plot — an infamous plan to carry out attacks in Ontario that was foiled by law enforcement in 2006 — were let out on bail.
Mohamed was initially arrested under a new "fear of terrorism" provision in the Canadian criminal code that allows law enforcement to arrest people based on the mere suspicion they might engage in terrorism — but wasn't officially charged with a terror-related offence until a few days later. The RCMP had been seeking a peace bond at that time, not a formal criminal charge, that likely would have placed restrictions on his behavior and ability to travel.
Mohamed was especially outspoken on Twitter about jihad, the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and the Syrian war. He tweeted under the pseudonym Abu Jayyid.
After Mohamed was charged, his mother, Debbie told the Toronto Star that his trip to Turkey in 2014 was perfectly innocent, and that she and her other son eventually joined him there for a family holiday.
"If they want to arrest Kevin for going there then they should be arresting all three of us ... he has done nothing wrong," she said, adding that while her son was religious, he was not connected to a terrorist organization.
Although the RCMP eventually dropped their pursuit of a peace bond against Mohamed, his case has raised the ire of civil liberties and national security experts who criticize the "fear of terrorism" provision as being overly broad, and one of many problems with Bill C-51, the anti-terror legislation brought in last year under the previous Conservative government.
Peace bonds, as opposed to criminal charges, have been on the rise as an anti-terror tool over the last year. Kadir Abdul and Samuel Aviles were arrested last week after they returned from Turkey. As with Mohamed, the RCMP alleges the pair were going to travel to participate in terrorism, but neither of them have been charged with a crime.
According to the National Post, Abdul, who is also represented by Farooq, lived on the same street as Mohamed. Mohamed is set to appear in court next month to arrange pre-trial proceedings.
Follow Rachel Browne on Twitter: @rp_browne