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Othman Hamdan faces three charges of counselling the commission of indictable offences for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a terrorist organization.

seb_ra/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The trial of a B.C. man alleged to have published support for the Islamic State terrorist group online opened on Thursday with an RCMP officer analyzing a series of Facebook posts, including one involving an attack on Parliament three years ago.

Othman Hamdan was arrested in July, 2015, in the northeastern B.C. community of Fort St. John.

He faces three charges of counselling the commission of indictable offences for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a terrorist organization. He is also charged with directly or indirectly instructing persons to carry out terrorist activities.

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Mr. Othman has pleaded not guilty. The trial is being heard in Vancouver by a judge alone.

The Crown has identified 85 "key" posts that it says were on Facebook pages or profiles administered by Mr. Hamdan. It says the posts were either created by him or reposted from elsewhere.

The first witness to testify in the B.C. Supreme Court trial was RCMP Constable Tarek Mokdad, who was recognized by the court as an expert on Islamist-inspired terrorism and lone-wolf attacks.

The court heard one of the Facebook posts was published on Oct. 22, 2014, the day of the Ottawa attack. The post said the attacker, who was shot dead by police, had been "martyred."

Constable Mokdad said a similar post appeared after an attack in Quebec that same month.

For the Islamic State, he said, dying for the sake of God or being martyred is viewed as the greatest honour.

Constable Mokdad – who had analyzed about a dozen of the posts before court wrapped for the day – said another post contained a term that is only used to express support for the Islamic State.

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"The word linguistically means: [the Islamic State] it is here to stay, it is here to remain," he said.

"… It is a coined slogan specific only to the Islamic State."

The profile picture for a third post contained an emblem that has been adopted by the Islamic State, he said.

An RCMP statement at the time Mr. Hamdan was arrested said the posts included instructions to kill in the name of jihad.

Local police have said they became aware of Mr. Hamdan after being notified by the RCMP's counterterrorism unit about online activity believed to be linked to the Islamic State.

Constable Mokdad, who works with the RCMP's Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams, told the court the Canadian government designated the Islamic State as a terrorist organization in 2014.

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"They have a vision, political and religious. The Islamic State wishes to remove Western hegemony, predominantly led by America from the Middle East … and replace them with governments that respect and implement Sharia law," he said.

Of lone-wolf attacks, Constable Mokdad said they can refer to "an individual who is residing outside the Islamic State controlled territories around the globe.

"Anywhere outside, could be Canada, could be in the U.S. They are loyal to the Islamic State's cause, they are supportive of their religious or ideological or political motives. And they are willing to conduct operations to further the Islamic State's cause in the region of the Middle East."

Mr. Hamdan was in the courtroom on Thursday, but did not address the court at any point.

Constable Mokdad's testimony is to continue on Friday.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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