Canadian Supreme Court reviews first conviction under anti-terrorism act

CBC News – June 11, 2012


In 2004, Mohammad Momin Khawaja became the first Canadian charged under Canada’s anti-terrorism act. He was convicted four years later and is now serving a life sentence. The Supreme Court of Canada will soon begin a review of the case.

On March 29, 2004 police arrested Momin Khawaja and searched the Khawaja family residence, finding the hifidigimonster in his older brother Qasim’s bedroom. According to the judge who found Momin Khawaja guilty, Qasim’s bedroom “seemed to be the site” where the device “was being developed and modified.” Family members were detained but later released. The U.K. suspects were tried first, in a trial lasting 13 months where the jury spent 27 days deliberating — the longest ever for a U.K. crime case. In the end, five of the defendents, Omar Khyam, Anthony Garcia, Jawad Akbar, Waheed Mahmood, and Salahuddin Amin, were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

Khawaja was convicted on five counts but not for the London bomb plot. In Justice Douglas Rutherford’s judgment, “The evidence does not lead inescapably, or beyond a reasonable doubt, to the conclusion that Momin Khawaja was privy to the fertilizer bomb plot or its existence.” Rutherford sentenced Khawaja to serve a further 10.5 years in jail. On Dec. 17, 2010 the Ontario Court of Appeal increased Khawaja’s sentence to life imprisonment, arguing that terrorism “must be dealt with in the severest of terms.”

The Supreme Court’s review of the Khawaja case, along with two other anti-terrorism act cases [see sidebar], will examine the constitutionality of the definition of “terrorist activity” in the criminal code. The key issue centres on what’s called the motive clause, which states that terrorism activity is that committed, “in whole or in part for a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause.”

Woman in Ottawa Funnels Funds to Britain in Alleged Terrorist Financing Scheme

In this Ottawa trial last week, it was revealed that former software designer Momin Khawaja used an Ottawa-area woman to funnel funds to colleagues in an alleged terrorist financing scheme. Zenab Armandpisheh testified she met Mr. Khawaja in the fall of 2002 in an Internet chat room when she was an 18-year-old college student, but cut off ties in mid-2003 as she grew suspicious of his activities. She never knew his real name, but shortly after was put into contact with Anthony Garcia, one of the five men convicted by a British jury last year of plotting to bomb target in and around London. Ms. Armandpisheh also said that Mr. Khawaja sent her several emails about various recent terrorist attacks and handed her a number of DVDs depicting jihadi activities, encouraging that she “play them for others.”

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