OTTAWA (Reuters) - Police have jailed a Pakistani gun collector living in Ontario, alleging he is a terrorist threat to Canada, his lawyer said on Thursday, days after attacks in which two Canadian soldiers were killed.
Muhammad Aqeeq Ansari, a 30-year-old software designer, was arrested on Monday on allegations he has ties to militants in Pakistan, has amassed an arsenal of firearms, and has expressed extreme views on Twitter, his lawyer, Anser Farooq, said.
Ansari, who does not have Canadian citizenship, is being charged under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act with being a danger to the security of Canada, Farooq said. He faces deportation.
Farooq, who has defended other clients on terrorism-related charges, said he has received numerous calls from people who have been contacted by police and intelligence since the attacks last week that killed one soldier in Ottawa and another in Quebec.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) declined to comment. The Globe and Mail newspaper was first to report on Ansari’s arrest.
“People are petrified,” Farooq said. “Since the attacks, the RCMP really seems to be out in force.”
An official at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton, Ontario, where Ansari is being held, said Ansari would face an immigration hearing there on Friday.
Ansari surrendered 10 firearms to authorities last year, including rifles and several handguns as part of a plea bargain to obtain a conditional discharge on charges of illegally storing lawfully acquired firearms. Those proceedings did not include allegations of terrorism, the lawyer who represented him in that case, Ed Burlew, told Reuters.
“I’m surprised he’s now facing immigration charges,” Burlew said. “There was never any allegation in last year’s charges of violence, or potential violence, and if there had been we would never have been able to reach that deal,” he said, describing Ansari as a “polite, naive, nerdy guy who liked guns”.
Canadian police have been under scrutiny for their handling of suspected extremists since last week’s attacks, and law enforcement officials have asked for additional powers to investigate and arrest extremists in Canada.
Police say the attacks were committed by radical Muslim converts inspired by Islamic State. Both assailants were shot dead by security officials.
On Ansari’s Twitter account, he describes himself as a “Convicted Radical (ConRad) xD. Gamer, Sleeper... Not used to taking anything seriously.... seriously.”
Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson, Jonathan Oatis and Peter Galloway