News Agencies – March 4, 2011
Shareef Abdelhaleem has been sentenced to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 10 years for his role in a Canadian homegrown terror plot. Justice Fletcher Dawson delivered the final sentence in the so-called “Toronto 18” case in Brampton, Ontario. Because Abdelhaleem was arrested in 2006, he will technically be eligible for parole in just over five years.
Abdelhaleem became involved with the group because he hoped to make money from a terrorist attack and was among 18 people charged in the summer of 2006. He was the right-hand man of Zakaria Amara, an Islamist extremist who masterminded the plot and is now serving a life sentence.
Charges were eventually dropped against seven of the accused. The remaining members of the group either pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial and have all been sentenced. Abdelhallem was convicted in January 2010, then argued unsuccessfully he had been entrapped. Before sentencing, Abdelhaleem told Dawson he felt he was being discriminated against treated more harshly as a “brown Muslim” terrorist than if he was a white “extremist.” “I am not denying that what I did was wrong,” Abdelhaleem said, reading from a sheaf of papers. “I am unconditionally sorry.”
Shareef Abdelhaleem testified before a Canadian court that he purposely positioned himself as the middleman of a potentially deadly terrorist plot because he wanted to learn key details about it in case he decided to sabotage it. The member of the so-called Toronto 18 said he was as an “outsider”, and not part of the ‘bombing club,’ which he said was made up of mastermind Zakaria Amara and undercover police agent Shaher Elsohemy, who was to supply bomb making material.
One week ago, Abdelhaleem was found guilty of participating in a 2006 explosives plot to bomb the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Toronto offices of Canada’s spy agency and a military base off Highway 401. Before a conviction is registered, the judge must rule on whether Abdelhaleem was entrapped.
Abdelhaleem was among 18 people charged in the summer of 2006 with belonging to a cell that organized terrorist training camps and planned to blow up buildings with three tones of ammonium nitrate. Amara has been sentenced to life in prison.
A police agent who was paid $4.1 million CAD to infiltrate an alleged terror group testified for the first time on the opening day of the trial for Shareef Abdelhaleem, a member of the so-called Toronto 18.
Abdelhaleem, 34, is alleged to have used his friend, undercover police agent Shaher Elsohemy, to set up the purchase of three tones of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, destined for truck bombs targeting sites in downtown Toronto.
This morning, Elsohemy, currently in witness protection, told a Brampton court that he had developed a “strong” friendship with Abdelhaleem and frequented an Islamic school in Mississauga run by the accused’s father. Their relationship was such that the two vacationed together, taking a trip to Morocco in 2005.
“A $4.1 million payoff is pretty steep…It’s unprecedented in Canada,” Abdelhaleem’s lawyer, William Naylor told reporters, adding that’s one of the problems with the case against his client. He went on to suggest that Elsohemy was more concerned with getting money than searching for the truth.