A Toronto man has been found guilty of taking part in the activities of a terrorist group known as the “Toronto 18”. The man, the first case for Canada’s antiterrorism laws, was charged in 2006 and cannot be named because he was a juvenile at that time. Arrested after a series of police raids in June 2006, the police and prosecutors claim that the suspects had planned to bomb government buildings and assassinate Prime Minister Harper.
Referring to the young man as an “eager acolyte,” Justice John Sproat of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice said in his reading of his 94-page judgment, “I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that a terrorist group existed,” adding that the group’s actions “were motivated by an interpretation of Islam which required an attack upon the near enemy, including the Canadian military and Parliament.” The key informant to the police, Mubain Shaikh, said outside the courthouse that he did not agree with the ruling because he did not believe the defendant was aware of the group’s violent plans.
Charges against seven of the 18 suspects have been dropped. Prosecutors and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police declined comment as the pending case of the remaining suspects accused are part of the same group. The young man faces up to 10 years in prison, but his lawyers suggest a stiff sentence is unlikely. Some critics have called into question civil liberties for those charged under this new antiterrorism legislation.
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