It was a scheme to bomb downtown Toronto that even a confessed conspirator, 22-year-old Saad Khalid, now acknowledges as “a despicable crime.” Prosecutors say the ringleaders of the so-called “Toronto 18” debated whether to plant metal chips in bombs to maximize the number of people injured – and spoke of their coordinated explosions dwarfing the impact of the 2005 London subway bombings that killed 50 commuters.

Khalid asked a Canadian Superior Court judge for clemency during sentencing. Having already pleaded guilty to involvement in the foiled bomb plot, he became the first person arrested to speak of the crime. “I am not a lunatic who is hell-bent on destruction of Western civilization,” said the middle-class McMaster University student. His mistake, he said, arose from a “disagreement on the issue of Canadian foreign policy, specifically Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan.” He also told Mr. Justice Bruce Durno he has a better understanding of Islam since being jailed.

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