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 Canadian terrorist was sentenced to life in prison in a precedent-setting judgment in the case of young al-Qaida-inspired extremists who plotted to blow up their fellow citizens. Calling the conspiracy “spine chilling,” Mr. Justice Bruce Durno imposed the stiffest sentence since the federal government put anti-terrorism laws on the books in 2001.
“The potential for loss of life existed on a scale never before seen in Canada,” Judge Durno said as he read aloud his 48-page decision. Four years ago, Zakaria Amara was a university dropout working as a gas jockey in Mississauga. Then 20, he lived a secret life, relentlessly, almost rabidly, pursuing a goal: bombing Canadian targets to force the government to end its military mission in Afghanistan.
Mr. Amara will be eligible for parole in about six years, which will coincide with his 30th birthday. However, he must persuade authorities that he should regain his liberty.
The dramatic arrests of Saad Khalid and Saad Gaya, members of the “Toronto 18” terrorist group that was planning to detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto in 2006, was captured on a video released by the court. The video is among dozens of Crown exhibits that form the case against Zakaria Amara, who admitted on October 8 he was the leader of the bomb plot. An Ontario judge approved their release, allowing Canadians to view them for the first time.
The videos show the terrorists testing an electronic detonator and meeting in the dark. Also released was a video of a test explosion conducted by the RCMP, which built and detonated a bomb using the same formula as the terrorists. The result is a huge blast that flipped a metal shipping container.
Amara, 24, pleaded to two counts of terrorism and is to be sentenced in January. Khalid, Gaya and Ali Dirie have also pleaded guilty and another man, Nishanthan Yogakrishnan, was convicted. Another six are awaiting trial.
Zakaria Amara issued a surprise guilty plea in a Brampton courtroom, more than 40 months after he and 17 others were arrested in connection with the most audacious and ambitious terrorist attack planned in Canada as part of the “Toronto 18.”
Pleading guilty to two counts of terrorism will likely garner Amara, the plot’s ringleader, life in prison.
Raised in the suburbs by an Arab father and a Cypriot mother, Amara has been portrayed as an unlikely Islamic warrior. He says he was baptized in the Greek Orthodox church. In his teens he married an observant, niqab-wearing wife, who soon bore him a baby. News sources claim that she urged him to do something dramatic for Islam.