July 12, 2015 - 8:30 AM
VANCOUVER - A northern British Columbia man who has been charged with terrorism-related offences had no links to the community, the town's mayor said Saturday.
Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said she hasn't spoken with anyone who knows Othman Ayed Hamdan, and doesn't know when he arrived in the city of 21,000 people.
"No one knew he was here because he wasn't part of the community," Ackerman said in a phone interview.
RCMP announced on Friday that they charged the 33-year-old man with three terrorism related counts, including counselling to commit murder for the benefit of a terrorist group, counselling to assault causing bodily harm for the benefit of a terrorist group, and counselling to commit aggravated assault for the benefit of a terrorist group.
An RCMP news release alleges Hamdan was involved in distributing propaganda connected with the group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
The Mounties allege the propaganda posted online included inducement and instructions to commit murder in the name of Jihad.
No one in the local Muslim community knew Hadman either, said Azhar Phoolwala, spokesman for the Peace River Muslim Association.
The suspect had not been to Fort St. John's year-old mosque or to any prayer meetings or events held by the religious group, Phoolwala said.
"Like anyone else in Fort St. John, it's really a shock to us," he said.
"This is all about this individual. It's not about Islam and it's not about the Muslim community here."
Ackerman said the charges shouldn't have any reflection on her community, adding there's no sense of heightened concern about terrorism in Fort St. John.
"This really just goes to enforce that we as Canadians, we as citizens, need to be very diligent in the activities that go in our neighbourhoods, in our communities, in our social circles to ensure that these things do not happen," she said.
Police have not indicated when the suspect will appear in court to face the allegations against him, only saying it will be soon.
News from © Canadian Press, 2015