The final chapter in the story of the Toronto 18 terror cell closed last week with convictions, but experts warn there is no end to the threat of homegrown religious extremism among Muslim youth. Community members and security experts agree that youth are being radicalized in their own homes by tapping into an online jihadi cyberworld and also behind closed doors of private prayer rooms where firebrand religious ideologues go unchallenged. And increasingly, they are travelling overseas to countries such as Somalia and Pakistan to take up arms and fight jihad.
The arrests four years ago of what became known as the Toronto 18 woke up a country that had appeared immune to the kind of attacks that had terrorized cities such as New York and London. Evidence emerged of plots to storm Parliament Hill, behead the prime minister and blow up truck bombs in downtown Toronto.
The final two accused, Asad Ansari, 25, of Mississauga, and Steven Chand, 29, of Scarborough, were found guilty by a Brampton jury of participating in a terrorist group. It was the first time a Canadian jury has ruled on a terrorism case since the introduction of anti-terrorism legislation in 2001, passed after the Sept. 11 attacks.