Toronto 18 terrorist Khalid nets fourteen years in the clink

Rome has to be defeated” “God is great”.

Electronic detonators, ammonium nitrate, rental trucks and cellphone-activated triggers. The Book of Jihad. The Virtues of Jihad.

” To begin with, I would like to make it clear I was not motivated by a hate of Canada, Canadians, democracy or Canadian values of freedom, civil liberties and women’s rights. I was instead motivated by issues of disagreement on Canadian foreign policy, specifically Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan and I thought I could make a difference”. Saad Khalid, convicted terrorist.

From The Ottawa Citizen.

‘Toronto 18’ terror suspect gets 14 years in prison

By Stewart Bell, National Post September 3, 2009 10:32 PM
Saad Khalid pleaded guilty to aiding the plot to detonate bombs in Toronto's bustling downtown core last May.

Saad Khalid pleaded guilty to aiding the plot to detonate bombs in Toronto’s bustling downtown core last May.

Photograph by: Reuters, np

BRAMPTON, Ont. — A man, 23, who admitted he was part of a plot to detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto to protest Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday.

Justice Bruce Durno called terrorism “the most vile form of criminal conduct” and said while Saad Khalid was not the prime mover behind the bomb plot, he had nonetheless, played a significant role.

“He was not just a gopher,” the judge said, adding Khalid had bought electrical components and recruited another person into the group. “He was not someone who just sat waiting for his next assignment without providing input.”

But Khalid could be released on parole in a little more than two years, since the judge gave him seven years credit for the time he has already served since his arrest on June 2, 2006. He was banned for life from possessing firearms or explosives.

“He’s perfectly happy with the outcome,” his lawyer Russell Silverstein told reporters outside the Brampton courthouse. “It could have been a lot worse.” The Crown had been seeking a term of 18 to 20 years.

Khalid is the first member of the “Toronto 18” terrorist group to plead guilty, and the second to be sentenced. A 21-year-old (who cannot be named because he was a youth at the time) was convicted last September and sentenced to 30 months in jail.

Khalid was born in Saudi Arabia and immigrated to Canada with his family in 1995. Although raised in a moderate Muslim household in Mississauga, Ont., he began to drift toward extremism late in high school, the judge said.

In December 2005, he attended a training camp in Washago, north of Toronto, where he was nicknamed Abu Canada because he wore a red toque with the name of his adopted country emblazoned on it.

A “statement of uncontested facts” released by the Crown said the purpose of the camp was to train potential recruits for the terrorist group and assess whether they were suitable candidates for membership.

A video filmed at the camp shows men dressed in camouflage uniforms shooting as they yell “God is Great” in Arabic. In a second video, one of the suspects says, “Rome has to be defeated, and we have to be the ones that do it.”

But some of those who went there were told the camp was a religious retreat and that they would be learning survival skills. “The Crown does not allege that Khalid had prior knowledge of the camp’s true purpose,” the document reads.

Members of the group allegedly built electronic detonators and tried to purchase such chemicals as ammonium nitrate. They intended to place the bombs in rented trucks and to detonate them using a cellphone-activated trigger.

The targets were to be the Toronto Stock Exchange, a CSIS office located next to the CN Tower and a military base between Toronto and Ottawa. The suspects were arrested before any attacks occurred.

Khalid was arrested at a warehouse in Newmarket, Ont., while unloading bags labelled “ammonium nitrate” from a truck. On his computer, police found documents with titles such as The Book of Jihad, The Virtues of Jihad.

Following the arrests, CSIS described the group as “adherents of a violent ideology inspired by al-Qaida” but their lawyers and supporters have downplayed the threat, depicting them as harmless young men acting out fantasies. Durno said there was no evidence the alleged ringleaders were too incompetent to carry out the bombings.

Three months after the arrests, the RCMP Explosives Disposal Unit tested a bomb like the ones the group had allegedly intended to detonate in Toronto.

When the test bomb exploded, a 2,230-kilogram steel shipping container 20 metres away did a 360-degree flip. The bomb experts said such a blast would have caused “catastrophic damage” to buildings and killed or seriously injured those in its path.

In a statement released last week, Khalid accepted responsibility for his actions and said he had made a “huge mistake” and regretted taking part in the “despicable crime.”

“To begin with, I would like to make it clear I was not motivated by a hate of Canada, Canadians, democracy or Canadian values of freedom, civil liberties and women’s rights,” he said.

“I was instead motivated by issues of disagreement on Canadian foreign policy, specifically Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan and I had thought that I could make a difference.”

Durno said Khalid was remorseful and prospects for rehabilitation appear good. The judge said he had received dozens of letters of support from Khalid’s family and friends. A fund established to pay for Khalid’s education following his release has raised $63,000.

Khalid was a target of an RCMP undercover investigation called Project Osage, Canada’s most high-profile counter-terrorism operation since the 9/11 attacks. Eighteen suspects were arrested but charges against seven were eventually stayed. Nine adults are scheduled to go on trial early next year.

sbell@nationalpost.com

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

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