From The National Post
‘Jihadi flavour’ at boot camp, witness says
Simulating Combat; Trainees told to target ‘infidels,’ court hears
Megan O’Toole, National Post Published: Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Simon Hayter, Getty Images Files The Toronto 18 attended an Ontario camp where participants shot guns and ran obstacle courses, court has heard.
A key Crown witness said he felt as though he had entered the mind of an “ideal jihadi” during accused terrorist Fahim Ahmad’s speech to potential recruits at a training camp north of Toronto.
During the speech, Mr. Ahmad urged participants to overcome individual obstacles, adhere to a common goal and learn how to deceive the public about the group’s true intentions.
“It was like living in the mind of an ideal jihadi who does everything right all the time,” witness Mubin Shaikh testified yesterday.
Mr. Ahmad, Asad Ansari and Steven Chand are on trial in Superior Court for participating in a terrorist group four years ago. They are the final three to face trial in the “Toronto 18” case.
The Crown alleges Mr. Ahmad was a terrorist ringleader; he stands further charged with importing firearms and instructing others to carry out activities for the benefit of a terrorist group. Mr. Chand faces an additional charge of counselling someone to commit fraud over $5,000 in association with a terrorist group.
Mr. Shaikh said Mr. Ahmad played a leading role in the “jihadi combat” camp in December 2005, where participants were trained as Muslim combatants and urged to target “infidels.”
The court saw photographs from the snow-covered campsite in Washago, Ont., depicting trees riddled with paintball marks and bullets. The group practised paintball, Mr. Shaikh said, “in the context of simulating combat, but with a jihadi flavour.”
Mr. Shaikh, who infiltrated the group as an agent for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, said both Mr. Ahmad and Mr. Chand helped organize aspects of the camp, referring to them as “trainers.”
The goal of the boot-camp-style event, which ran about two weeks, was to “weed out” undesirables and bring the rest on board for more advanced training, Mr. Shaikh said.
Participants shot guns, ran obstacle courses and watched jihadi videos in their tents, the court heard.
Group members were supposed to avoid phone calls in order to conceal their location, Mr. Shaikh testified, but calls were made regardless. In one transcript played for the court, Mr. Ahmad and his wife discuss how much they miss each other, but the accused indicates he is needed at the camp because “I’m leading this whole thing.”
Camp participants adopted false names, Mr. Shaikh said, noting he himself went by “Abu Jandal,” a name selected by Mr. Ahmad.
“I’m deferring to Fahim as the emir of the group, as the leader of the group,” Mr. Shaikh told the jury.
Another of the group members, Zakaria Amara, videotaped many camp events, including a staged air-rifle shooting, “so we can show other people that we’re serious,” Mr. Shaikh testified. The primary purpose of the tape was recruitment, so the group could expand its base, he noted.
The video, played in court yesterday, shows camouflage-clad group members handling guns, running through the woods and wrestling. Audio of Arabic chanting is superimposed, acting as a soundtrack for the training runs.
The trial continues today.