Man guilty in Canada terror plot
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- 26th September 2008 #1
Man guilty in Canada terror plot
Man guilty in Canada terror plot
BRAMPTON, Ontario: A Toronto man was found guilty on Thursday of taking part in the activities of a terrorist group whose bold, if ill-formed plans included the goal of decapitating Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The defendant was the first of 11 remaining suspects to be tried in the case.
The man, who was the test case for Canada's first antiterrorism laws, introduced in 2001, cannot be named because he was a juvenile when charged. He was among 18 people, now known as the Toronto 18, who were arrested after a series of police raids in June 2006. The police and prosecutors said the suspects had planned not only to assassinate Harper, but also to bomb government buildings.
"I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that a terrorist group existed," Justice John Sproat of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said during a reading of his judgment that lasted about one hour. "Planning and working toward ultimate goals that appear unattainable or even unrealistic does not militate against a finding that this was a terrorist group."
The judge also wrote that the group's actions "were motivated by an interpretation of Islam which required an attack upon the near enemy, including the Canadian military and Parliament."
Despite the guilty verdict, the man, now 20 years old, has not yet been formally convicted. His conviction cannot be entered until the court reviews an abuse-of-process application from his lawyer contending that many of the group's activities were made possible by a paid police informant who, the lawyer says, committed illegal acts himself.
While the testimony from that informant, Mubain Shaikh, clearly influenced the judge's decision, the informant said outside the courthouse here that he disagreed with Thursday's ruling.
"I don't believe he was a terrorist," Shaikh said. "I don't believe he should have been put through what he was put through. But that's our system."
Shaikh said he did not believe that the defendant was aware of the group's violent plans.
Wiretaps, videotapes made by Shaikh, his testimony and other evidence painted a picture of a group whose abilities of carrying out a plot were, at best, limited. In the trial, most of the evidence focused on the suspect's participation in two sessions of camp staged by the group.
But in his ruling, the judge said that even commonplace activities could take on a different meaning within the context of a camp where leaders made inflammatory remarks about destroying "Rome," which the judge concluded was a euphemism for Canada and the United States.
"As a matter of common sense, engaging in activities such as paint-balling, physical exercise and rafting is by no means inconsistent with the existence of a terrorist group," Sproat ruled.
He added that an official report into the London subway and bus bombings in July 2005 found that "outward bound type activities" were a common factor among those bombers.
The judge allowed that the suspect, who was born in Sri Lanka and was a recent convert to Islam at the time of his arrest, might not have realized what he was getting into until the first camp. But Sproat said the group's nature should have been clear after it performed target practice with a pistol and its members heard a long and often rambling speech by the group's leader at the camp.
In that speech, videotaped by Shaikh, the leader said in a mixture of English and Arabic (a language the defendant did not understand) that "exclaiming God is great puts fright in their hearts, man; it freaks them out."
"Imagine we're walking the streets of downtown or even Washington," the leader continued, "and you're in front of the White House and you raise the banner of 'There is no God except God.' Is anybody ever going to think of facing us?"
The leader also said: "It doesn't matter what comes your way. Our mission's greater. Whether we get arrested, whether we get killed, we get tortured, our mission's greater than just individuals."
The ruling finds that by taking part in a second camp, by continuing to have contact with the ringleader and by shoplifting walkie-talkies from Wal-Mart, the suspect demonstrated that he had knowingly assisted a terrorist group.
Charges against seven of the suspects have been dropped.
Mitchell Chernovsky, the lawyer for the man found guilty on Thursday, said that by buying ammunition for the group and by helping to select camp participants, among other things, Shaikh overstepped the bounds of his role as a police agent under Canadian law. It is illegal to buy ammunition for people without gun permits.
"Without Shaikh, their whole case collapses," Chernovsky said. A hearing on that application will be held later this year.
Prosecutors and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police declined to comment, citing the pending cases of other suspects accused of being in the same group.
- 26th September 2008 #2
- Join Date
- May 2004
May Allah hasten the release of this brother from the grip of the tawaghit.
- 26th September 2008 #3
There was no evidence offered directly linking the defendant to the bomb plot or plans to storm Parliament. Instead, most of the case focused on his attendance at two camps that the police described as terrorist training sessions but that prosecution witnesses characterized as recreational or religious retreats. Both were videotaped by a paid police informant who was part of the group and who testified that he choreographed some of the scenes. Man Guilty in Canada Terror Plot
BRAMPTON, Ontario — A judge on Thursday found a youth suspect guilty in a plot to bomb Canadian government offices and attack the prime minister, in the first trial of a member of the so-called Toronto 18.
The judge said there was credible evidence of a terrorist plot aimed at targets in North America. But the judge said the man could not be convicted yet because of a technicality.
The judge’s 50-page ruling hinged on whether the information provided by a paid police informant was credible. The judge said that prosecutors did not have to prove that the suspects were capable of carrying out a terrorist attack or that there was a specific plan, only that they could be demonstrated to be a terrorist group.
Because the man on trial was 17 years old when arrested, he cannot be identified under Canadian law. The man, who was accused of participating in terrorist training, moved to Canada from Sri Lanka in 1994 and was raised a Hindu. He converted to Islam in high school and met many of his accused accomplices, including a man prosecutors depict as the ringleader, at a mosque in the Scarborough area of Toronto.
Ontario Superior Court Justice John Sproat rendered his verdict in Brampton, Ont., courtroom, saying evidence that a terrorist conspiracy existed was “overwhelming,” according to the Canadian Press.
The story that first emerged about the 18 men and teenagers, all Muslims, who were arrested in and around Toronto in June 2006, was deeply disturbing. Police officials and prosecutors told of plots to bomb government offices in Toronto and Ottawa as well as a nuclear power station, and of a planned attack on Parliament with the aim of capturing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and decapitating him.
But as the judge in this Toronto suburb prepared to release the verdict on Thursday, the so-called Toronto 18 took on a less sinister cast.
Charges were dropped this year against seven of the defendants. And evidence presented at the first trial suggests that the group was long on inflammatory talk about plots but short on the means and methods to carry them out, and that it may have been aided — and perhaps provoked — by paid police informants.
From the first terrifying charges outlined by prosecutors to the gritty, often comically deflated details that have emerged in court, the case of the Toronto 18 seems to fit a well-established pattern in terrorism prosecutions. Whether the result of trumped-up charges, conflicting demands of intelligence agencies or difficulties of trying cases where evidence is withheld by governments looking to protect their sources and methods, numerous terrorism trials in the United States and Europe have similarly foundered over the years.
This month, for example, a London jury dealt a blow to counterterrorism officials when it convicted three of eight defendants of conspiracy to commit murder but failed to reach verdicts on the more serious charge of a conspiracy to blow up seven airliners with liquid explosives.
Evidence presented in court made it clear that, at best, the man was a minor character in the group.
No matter how minor his role, though, the evidence presented in the case presents a broad picture of the months leading to the raids, which, the police said, were timed to prevent the group from acquiring fertilizer to create bombs. The evidence was so broad that a court order prevents the publication of the identities of other people described in it to avoid prejudicing later trials.
There was no evidence offered directly linking the defendant to the bomb plot or plans to storm Parliament. Instead, most of the case focused on his attendance at two camps that the police described as terrorist training sessions but that prosecution witnesses characterized as recreational or religious retreats. Both were videotaped by a paid police informant who was part of the group and who testified that he choreographed some of the scenes.
Video from a camp north of Toronto in December 2005 shows a car spinning around in a nearby, snow-covered parking lot. Prosecutors characterized that as special driver training but the defense, and many outsiders, said it was nothing more than “cutting doughnuts,” a favorite winter pastime of young Canadian motorists. Other video from the camp shows paintball fights, military clothing and members marching with a group flag.
Video from a second camp shows participants trying to ford a small stream by walking across logs (many of them fell in), sitting in a circle around two machetes (both apparently dull) and a book on the floor of a tent in what witnesses said was a bid to mimic online Islamic videos, and people jumping over a campfire.
Inexperienced at camping and not fond of the cold, the participants at the winter camp spent much of their time retreating to the heat of a nearby outlet of Tim Hortons, the ubiquitous Canadian coffee shop chain. Both camps provoked reports of suspicious activity to local police officers who, at one point, roused a group of campers who were sleeping in a van.
But a handgun was used for target practice at the winter camp. Wiretaps and evidence from two witnesses who were at the camp also show that inflammatory, if sometimes cryptic, remarks were made, particularly by the alleged ringleader, who regularly preached about the need for young Muslims to avenge attacks on their faith and its homelands.
But whether most of the campers knew anything about targets in Canada is, at best, unclear. Conversations about bombings and attacking Parliament appeared to involve only a small subset of the group. They showed little planning. When discussing the attack on Parliament, the group debated whether the prime minister was Mr. Harper or, as one suspect put it, “Paul — um what’s his name — Paul loser,” apparently a reference to Paul Martin, the Liberal whom Mr. Harper defeated.
One of the suspects suggested during the talk that the current defendant, who was not part of that conversation, should cut off Mr. Harper’s head because he was the only camper who had shown interest in cutting firewood.
In his closing arguments, the prosecutor, John Neander, cited the suspected ringleader’s repeated calls for the destruction of “Rome” as evidence that the defendant should have known the group planned attacks in Canada. (Although one witness testified that when some of the youths at the second camp complained about Canada, he reminded them about the quality of its roads, schools and health care system.)
- 26th September 2008 #4
He trimmed he's beard.
Paid RCMP informant Mubinoddin Shaikh speaks to the media following the conviction at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Brampton, northwest of Toronto, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2008
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