APPARENTLY IT’S EVERYONE ELSE’S FAULT THAT HE IS A VIOLENT JIHADIST..NICE OF CANADA TO GRANT HIM THE MERCY HE DIDN’T HAVE FOR THOSE HE WAS PLANNING ON KILLING…
Toronto 18 ringleader gets 16 years in prison
Alex Tavshunsky for Postmedia News
Court sketch of Fahim Ahmad from the trial of the Toronto 18 in Toronto May 10, 2010.
By Linda Nguyen
BRAMPTON, Ont. — The ringleader of the Toronto 18 terrorist group was sentenced Monday to 16 years in prison for masterminding plans to storm Parliament and to detonate powerful bombs in and around Toronto.
Fahim Ahmad, wearing a lime green polo T-shirt and thin-framed glasses, had no reaction when Superior Court Justice Fletcher Dawson announced the decision in a courtroom filled with his family and reporters. A woman sitting in a second room cried after the ruling was brought down.
Ahmad, 26, will be required to serve a total of eight years and three months of his sentence after being granted credit for time already served. He will be eligible to apply for parole in a little more than 3 1/2 years.
The Crown had asked the court for an 18-year prison term, citing mitigating factors, such as his youth and apparent remorse. Defence lawyer Dennis Edney painted Ahmad as a self-aggrandizing talker who lacked both the means and the willpower to carry out any of his plans.
Jusitice Dawson said he decided on a 16-year sentence because he believes Ahmad has a chance for rehabilitation once he is released. “I sincerely hope you change your views and show me that I wasn’t wrong,” he said following sentencing.
In May, Ahmad entered a guilty plea two weeks into his trial on three terrorism-related charges, including participating in a terrorist group, importing firearms and instructing others to carry out activities for the benefit of a terrorist group.
The group, known as the Toronto 18 because of the number of its members, was dismantled in 2006. Ahmad has been in police custody since June 2006.
Ahmad — who admitted to organizing two terrorist training camps — created propaganda videos and helped the group acquire firearms.
Although his plans never materialized, Justice Dawson said Ahmad was responsible for “recruiting, indoctrinating and arming” young Muslim men in his group.
Last month, in a rambling, six-page letter to the court, Ahmad said he had fallen into a “fantasy world” when he plotted to devastate Canadian infrastructure with a series of attacks. His targets were the CSIS headquarters in Toronto, the CBC building in downtown Toronto, Ottawa’s ParliamentBuildings and a number of military bases.
Ahmad, who was 21 at the time of his arrest, also placed the blame on a host of external sources, from his parents, who he said were never home, to religious leaders he turned to for guidance, to anonymous people he met online.
The atmosphere outside the Brampton courthouse, just west of Toronto, was very different Monday compared to when the trial started in 2006. Back then, there was high security and snipers on the rooftops for the hearings. On Monday, it was quiet.
Crown attorney Croft Michaelson said the prosecutors were “overall, happy” with the sentence.
“It sent out a strong signal to the community that this type of offence will not be tolerated in Canada and reflects the seriousness of the crime,” he said outside court.
He said the judge was correct to not place much weight on Ahmad’s guilty plea, calling it a “last-gasp plea for mercy.”
Mr. Michaelson said he felt “a real sense of accomplishment” that Ahmad and his associates have all been handed severe sentences for their crimes. Only two members of the Toronto 18 have yet to be sentenced, and that will happen next month.
“(These) would’ve been horrible offences we’ve ever had committed on Canadian soil, had they come to fruition,” Mr. Michaelson said. “Very, very serious crimes . . . We are fortunate that the authorities managed to stop them before the harm came to life.”
Bella Petrouchinova, another of Ahmad’s lawyers, was present at Monday’s hearing but declined to speak to media.