'Send him packing', say Enderby residents only slightly concerned by new ISIS supporting neighbour | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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'Send him packing', say Enderby residents only slightly concerned by new ISIS supporting neighbour

Jan's Boutique owner Jan Western says she not worried about an alleged ISIS supporter moving to town.
September 09, 2019 - 7:00 AM

ENDERBY - With its sleepy main street and adjacent meandering river, Enderby couldn't be further away from Kalashnikov wielding terrorists shown on TV, standing in the back of pick-up trucks waving their guns and the Islamic State flag around.

The sleepy town, more associated as a great place to float down the river on a hot summer day is, however, set to be the home of a man who once praised the barbaric and medieval atrocities carried out by ISIS.

On Sept. 3 Federal Court Justice Alan Diner ordered the release of 38-year-old Othman Ayed Hamdan to go and live in with a friend who'd paid a $2,000 bond in Enderby.

Hamdan's release hasn't impressed Enderby Mayor Greg McCune, although he's confident the town residents shouldn't be concerned.

"It will be fine," Mayor McCune told iNFOnews.ca. "I'm very impressed with what the RCMP do in our area and I don't think anyone has anything to worry about."

The sleepy Cliff Ave, Enderby.
The sleepy Cliff Ave, Enderby.

"The court obviously believes they can put in place procedures and checklists... to make sure everybody is safe," he said.

Hamdan's release comes with 25 conditions including a curfew and a ban from him using the internet.

McCune does say the City has been left he's been left in the dark about what's going on.

Walking down Cliff Avenue on a hot Friday afternoon, past a multitude of unique looking antique and collectable stores, the town certainly doesn't seem gripped by fear, although there's quite a lot of confusion about what's actually happening.

One lady says she thought Hamdan's release was just a small-town rumour and didn't actually believe it was true, while another seems genuinely surprised by the news it's actually happening.

Consignment store owner Jan Western says she's not worried at all about Hamdan's release. The owner of Jan's Boutique, Western shrugs off the notion there's anything to worry about.

Enderby is generally known as a great place to float on the river.
Enderby is generally known as a great place to float on the river.

"I'm not worried about it," a customer in Western's store says. Another customer pipes in, "I'm not worried about it either," adding "I'm not nervous."

Across the street at the Little Street Merchant cafe owner Sean Sheppard says he not a fan of the situation and neither are his customers.

"I don't think anybody is overly comfortable about it," Sheppard says.

"Shocked, shocked, and still in the dark," cafe customer Kris Philibert says while she waits for her lunch order.

Another customer raises his eyebrows when asked what he thinks about the release.

"Send him packing, we don't want him here," he says sternly.

Turn to social media and unsurprisingly comments range from outrage and fear to acts of violence.

Enderby City Hall
Enderby City Hall

A lot of people in town ask whether Hamdan has arrived in Enderby yet. It's a question difficult to confirm.

The Canada Border Services Agency confirmed in an email Hamdan was no longer in immigration detention, and they will monitor his release to ensure that terms and conditions are met. They wouldn't say whether he'd arrived in town.

A citizen of Jordan, Hamdan originally arrived in the USA in 1999 on a student visa. He crossed into Canada in 2002 claiming asylum stating he'd converted from Islam to Christianity.

In 2008 his application to become a permanent resident was refused after Citizenship and Immigration Canada made repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact him.

Following the 2014 deadly terrorist attacks in Ottawa, the RCMP conducted a review of social media to identify potential threats to Canadian national security and arrested Hamdan. He was charged with four-terrorist related charges for multiple posts he'd made using multiple Facebook profiles encouraging murder and lone-wolf attacks. He'd identified the Revelstoke dam, among other locations, as a possible terrorist attack target.

In September 2017 Hamdan was acquitted of all charges, but promptly re-arrested and issued a deportation order as he was considered a danger to the security of Canada.

Court documents show Hamdan has received 27 detention reviews, and each time a decision was made to keep him behind bars.

That was until July 2019, when the Immigration and Refugee Board ordered Hamdan to be released stating he "does not pose a danger to the public if released with appropriate conditions." The Canada Border Services Agency appealed the decision and Hamdan remained in custody till Sept. 3 when a Federal Court judge dismissed the appeal allowing Hamdan he be released.

Member of Parliament for North Okanagan-Shuswap Mel Arnold released a statement opposing Hamdan's release and saying it was a "source of serious concern" for Canadians. 

"Canadians deserve the secure certainty that our immigration system and processes are consistent, fair and support our collective national security... I will continue to proactively engage with the citizens and municipal government of Enderby and ensure the Minister of Public Safety and Minister of Immigration are aware of our shared concerns and opposition to Hamdan’s release,” Arnold says in the release.

The City of Enderby also followed suit releasing a statement calling on Ottawa "to implement public safety reforms." The statement says the decision to release Hamdan was based on "legislation, precedent, and guidelines" which it calls a "systemic failure."

"We need Ottawa to make stronger legislation and guidelines to reverse bad precedents and place public safety at the forefront," the mayor said in the statement.

Talking to people in Enderby, they're certainly bewildered about why the system would release Hamdan, especially as he is set to be deported at a later date.

However, not everyone has their pulse on the complex legalities that have landed Enderby in the situation it is in.

Down by the river in the Small Axe Bistro server Tawny Zeiman serves beers and lunch to a handful of people enjoying the patio on the hot summer day.

Zeiman admits she "lives in a bubble news-wise" but says she hadn't heard of Hamdan and no-one at the bar had mentioned it at all.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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