“Toronto 18” Canadian terrorist group leader apologizes to Canadians

The 24-year-old Canadian mastermind of an al-Qaida-inspired plot to explode truck bombs in downtown Toronto has issued an abject apology to Canadians.

“I deserve nothing less than your complete contempt,” Mr. Amara told Mr. Justice Bruce Durno as he read an “open letter to Canadians” during his sentencing hearing. He pleaded guilty to terrorism offences last October and is to be sentenced next week.

These were the first public remarks by Mr. Amara, a ringleader of the so-called “Toronto 18” plot, who spent the spring of 2006 trying to procure huge quantities of explosive chemicals in order to build truck bombs. Starting off by quoting the Qur’an, in hindsight, he said his interpretation of Islam was “naïve and gullible,” and that his belief system made worse by the fact he had “isolated himself from the real world.” It wasn’t until he got to prison, he said, that he began to learn tolerance. Mr. Amara, a Sunni Muslim, talked of how he had also befriended a Jewish inmate, and a Shia Muslim, men from two religions he would have viewed with only contempt prior to his incarceration.

Mr. Amara faces life in prison, a punishment which the Crown is requesting. He will get one of the stiffest – if not the stiffest – terrorism sentence imposed since Parliament passed the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.