Canadian prosecutors have indicated they will appeal a 12-year prison sentence handed down to Saad Gaya, one of the “Toronto 18” group accused of planning al Qaeda-style bombings of Toronto landmarks in 2006. The Crown had sought a harsher sentence for Gaya, who pleaded guilty in September to plotting an explosion likely to cause death, the most serious of the charges against the “Toronto 18” group of extremists.
Police say Gaya and the other alleged plotters had planned to bomb the Toronto Stock Exchange, the CN Tower and other downtown targets in Canada’s largest city. Gaya’s sentence came on the same day that the alleged ringleader of the group, Zakaria Amara, was given a life sentence, the stiffest yet imposed under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
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.