Recently, this site posted two articles pertaining to the arrest and detainment of the infamous Toronto 18. Both articles, “Video: Ontario Canada Islamic terror training camp” and “jihad jingle bells in the snow” provide details into the alleged plot by Islamists to carry out death and destruction on Canada’s civilian population. They are worth a read to gain some insight into the case(s).
With today’s update, Justice John Sproat has rejected defence lawyer Mitchell Chernovsky’s portrayal of his client as a “naive, teenaged Muslim convert, eager to please his new peers and a young man oblivious to any murderous conspiracy”. He rendered a guilty verdict which was handed down this morning. The accused was arrested two years ago along with seventeen others in a massive anti-terrorism sweep in the Toronto area and is the first of the accused members to have undergone trial. The group conspired to obtain firearms, detonate truck bombs with the leader of the group suggesting the accused youth was the “ideal candidate” to behead the Prime Minister in a raid on Parliament.
Crown attorney John Neader summed it up nicely in his closing statement: ” The men shared a bond to do evil”.
Today’s verdict is an important one, as it is the first in a series of trial cases to prosecute terror suspects under Canada’s new anti-terrorism legislation.
Newspaper article below the fold… ADDENDUM Main prosecution witness himself a naturalized Canadian of Islamic origins attempted to have the witness found not guilty as in his own words “he did not wish to lessen the chances of anyone wishing to convert to Islam”
Evidence of terrorist group’s existence ‘overwhelming,’ judge rules
Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, September 25, 2008
BRAMPTON, Ont. – A 20-year-old Toronto man has been found guilty of participating in a homegrown terror cell that was plotting to kill civilians.
Justice John Sproat delivered his decision Thursday morning more than two years after the young man was arrested along with 17 other people in a massive anti-terrorism sweep in the Greater Toronto area.
Sproat said the evidence that a terrorist group existed was “overwhelming.”
A would-be ‘terrorist training camp’ that took place in a rural area north of Toronto in 2005. Mubin Shaikh, a police agent who infiltrated the group, testified that a youth convicted Thursday was at the two-week camp.
“(The youth) knew what (the alleged leader) was all about and what the group was about.”
The young man, who cannot not be named because he was underage at the time of his alleged crimes, was the first of the so-called ‘Toronto 18’ to face trial; his hearing was also considered the first test of the prosecution’s case.
To render a guilty verdict, Sproat had to be convinced that a terrorist group existed and that the youth knowingly participated in it.
In his closing submissions, John Neader, the Crown attorney, said the men shared a “bond to do evil.”
The group conspired to obtain firearms and to detonate truck bombs, using what they thought was three-tonnes of ammonium nitrate, according to prosecutors. RCMP said it was three times the amount used in the Oklahoma bombing in 1995, which killed 168 people.
Though the youth played a minor role in the sleeper cell – he was found guilty of attending a terrorist training camps and stealing for the group – he was the alleged leader’s “favourite son,” the court heard.
The accused leader bragged about the youth’s penchant for shoplifting and his ability to follow orders. He suggested that the youth was the ideal candidate to behead the prime minister in a raid on Parliament.
“The evidence before me is that stealing is contrary to the precepts of Islam,” Sproat said in his decision.
“(The youth), given his religious beliefs would not have shoplifted without (the alleged leader’s) assurance that it was permitted to do so.”
“I conclude that (his) shoplifting was justified and motivated by (the alleged leader) and does tend to indicate membership in the group.”
Mubin Shaikh, the police agent who infiltrated the group, testified that the youth was one of the stars at a two-week Winter camp held in December 2005.
Agents with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service tasked Shaikh, a Toronto-born father of four, to meet the suspects on Nov. 27, 2005 at a fundraising banquet.
But during the trial, the Crown’s star witness seemed to favour the defence when he testified that the youths were mere “sheep” who were deliberately kept in the dark about the group’s nefarious plans.
His testimony prompted Neander to accuse him of lying to protect the youth.
Mitchell Chernovsky, the youth’s lawyer, had portrayed his client as a naïve, teenaged Muslim convert who was eager to please his new peers but was oblivious to any murderous conspiracy.
That scenario would be “an insult to reason,” Neander had shot back.
Charges were stayed against seven of the 18 people arrested in the summer of 2006; with the youth being found not guilty, 10 adults remain accused in the so-called terror plot.
The youth’s case is the first terror trial to conclude in Canada since Sept. 11, 2001; the high-profile case is considered by some to be a test of the country’s ability to ferret out terrorists and prosecute them.