B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

B.C. man cleared of terrorism charges related to Facebook posts

Court heard Othman Hamdan paid tribute online to gains made by Islamic State militants

A B.C. man accused of using his Facebook account to express support of “lone wolf” terrorist attacks has been acquitted of all charges.

Othman Hamdan’s judge-alone trial began in June, when he pleaded not guilty to encouraging the commission of murder, assault and mischief as well as inducing and instructing someone to carry out a terrorist act.

READ MORE: B.C. man pleads not guilty to four terrorism-related charges

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Butler announced his decision on Friday, and it was confirmed by the criminal registry Monday.

The alleged offences were related to 85 Facebook posts between September 2014 and July 2015, when Hamdan was arrested.

The Fort St. John resident who described himself as a non-practising Sunni Muslim testified his posts highlighted government clashes against citizens who were “squashed” as they held peaceful protests during the Arab spring in the Middle East.

The trial heard his posts paid tribute to gains made by Islamic State militants with attacks in Canada and other Western countries.

Hamdan said he began posting comments on his Facebook profile and created some pages based initially on what he saw on social media, which played a big role in the series of demonstrations that swept through the Arab world.

“Lone wolves, we salute you,” read one post on March 3, 2015, as read in court by Crown counsel.

Another post in October 2014 calls Martin Couture-Rouleau, who rammed a car into Canadian soldiers in Quebec, “the real hero for hitting evil Canadian forces on their soil in retaliation for the Canadians supporting the Shiite gangs in Iraq.”

The post adds, “May Allah accept him,” which the Crown’s expert witness told the trial is a reference to the Muslim belief that only God can decide who is a legitimate martyr.

Another post in January 2015 blamed then-prime minister Stephen Harper for the lone-wolf attacks in Canada.

“In response to Harper’s policy of no restrictions on Canadian criminal forces in Iraq, Islamic State issues … an order to lone wolves in Canada with ‘no restrictions’ on targets … unlike prior restrictions to government and armed personnel only,” the post says, as read in court by Crown counsel.

Hamdan testified he abandoned his Islamic religion after moving to the United States in 1999 and converted to Christianity, then returned back to his former religion.

He also testified he drank lots of alcohol and smoked pot while living a Rastafarian lifestyle in the U.S., where he was soul searching.

The Canadian Press