Police informant paid millions to infiltrate Toronto terrorism group testifies

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.

Remaining six of “Toronto 18” face trials in 2010

The case of Canada’s notorious homegrown terror plot enters a significant phase in 2010 with the trials upcoming for the final six alleged members, accused of attending a training camp and plotting to bomb various targets. The Crown has alleged some of the men held a terrorism training camp north of Toronto and that others were involved in the bomb plot.

One of the remaining men is expected to have his trial by judge in January, while the other five men’s case is expected to be put in front of a jury starting in March.

The guilty pleas and the outcome of the first man’s trial will have absolutely no bearing on the last five men’s case, said lawyer William Naylor, who represents the man who will stand trial in January. The fact that those five men have elected trial by jury is breaking new ground. This is the first time an Anti-Terrorism Act case will be tried by a jury. All of the six men awaiting trial have been in custody since their arrests in June 2006, except for one, who was granted bail in August.