Gory details of terror charges stun listeners in Canada court

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2An eight-page document prepared by the prosecution, summarizing the charges against all the suspects, was not read in open court or distributed to the media, making it difficult to assess how sophisticated the alleged plot was. But the allegations of a plot to take political leaders hostage and behead them, unless Muslim prisoners were freed and Canada pulled its 2,300 troops out of Afghanistan, added a chilling dimension to a case that has prompted U.S. authorities to toughen security along the border and has unsettled Canada’s large Muslim community. Other defense attorneys declined to discuss the detailed charges. Batasar told AP that other suspects were facing similar allegations. “It’s just generally speaking that the allegations are against my client as well as the other parties,” he said. “That’s what all the parties are facing.” “The only reason I’m coming out and saying this is that my client is innocent of the charges,” Batasar added. “He protests his innocence, and that’s not being heard.” BRAMPTON, Ontario – The same friendly looking young man who blew a kiss to family members in court stands accused of wanting to lop off the head of the Canadian prime minister. The suspect, Steven Vikash Chand, also allegedly plotted to take over media outlets, including Canadian Broadcasting Corp., his attorney revealed Tuesday after a brief hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice. Spectators and family members of some of the 17 male Muslims – 12 adults and five juveniles – accused of plotting terror attacks in Canada were stunned Tuesday when they heard allegations of plans to storm Parliament, take hostages and behead Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Specifics of the charges against the other suspects were not released, but Chand’s lawyer, Gary Batasar, asked that the allegations against his client be read in court. He told The Associated Press later that others face similar accusations, but he did not say who or how many. Police say they expect more arrests, and intelligence officers are probing whether the 17 arrested over the weekend had any ties to Islamic terror cells in the United States and five nations in Europe and Asia. Chand, a 25-year-old restaurant worker from Toronto, was one of 15 suspects who made brief court appearances Tuesday. They were brought in groups of four or five, chained together in ankle shackles and handcuffs, and then held behind a glass enclosure. Chand, with a beard and shoulder-length hair, blew a kiss to supporters as he was led away after formal bail hearings for him and 14 others were postponed – at least until Monday. “There’s an allegation apparently that my client personally indicated that he wanted to behead the prime minister of Canada,” said Batasar. “It’s a very serious allegation. My client has said nothing about that.” Speaking outside the courthouse, Batasar said the charges were based on fear-mongering by government officials. “It appears to me that whether you’re in Ottawa or Toronto or Crawford, Texas, or Washington, D.C., what is wanting to be instilled in the public is fear,” he said. In Ottawa, Harper appeared to take the alleged beheading threat in stride. “I can live with these threats as long as they’re not from my caucus,” he joked. The Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton, a small city just west of Toronto, had said earlier that the suspects faced charges including participating in a terrorist group, importing weapons and planning a bombing. The specific details were made public Tuesday. Lawyers and family members said they were being given too little information about the case, and they charged that the suspects’ rights were not being respected. Rocco Galati, a lawyer for suspect Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21, told the judge that his client’s constitutional rights had been violated because he was only able to interview him in the presence of an armed guard. “The right to private counsel was afforded even at Nuremberg,” Galati said. Outside the court, Donald McLeod, a lawyer for Jahmaal James, 23, also complained of restricted access to his client, including only being allowed to speak to James through Plexiglas and not being allowed to have private discussions. Arif Raza, who represents Saad Khalid, 19, said he had never been allowed to speak to his client or even slip him his business card so Khalid could attempt to call the lawyer from the Maplehurst Correctional Center outside of Toronto. U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins praised Canadian authorities. “We appreciate the swift and effective action taken by Canadian law enforcement officials,” Wilkins said in Montreal. “They stepped in decisively and, I think, helped defuse a very dangerous situation. No country is immune to terrorism, and we frankly applaud their swift, decisive, heroic efforts.” The U.S. Border Patrol, meanwhile, put agents on high alert along Canada’s 4,000-mile southern border and stepped up inspections of traffic from Canada. Some American commentators and politicians have accused Canada of having a lax immigration policy and suggested building a fence along that border. But Harper told Parliament on Tuesday that most Americans admire Canada for “our shared concern about the security of this continent.” The arrests stunned many Canadians, who have not experienced such a major anti-terrorism case since security measures were intensified after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. “It’s breathtaking that this is going on in Canada,” International Trade Minister David Emerson told the CBC. “To see the homegrown nature of it is shocking to me.” Police say there is no evidence the suspect group had ties to al-Qaida, but describe members as sympathetic to al-Qaida’s violent jihadist ideology. Officials are concerned that many of the 17 suspects are about 20 years old and became radicalized very quickly. Officials announced the arrests on Saturday, saying the sweep was ordered after the group acquired three tons of ammonium nitrate, which can be mixed with fuel oil to make a powerful explosive. One-third that amount was used in the deadly bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The 12 adult suspects are each charged with one count of participating in a terrorist group. Three of them – Fahim Ahmad, 21, Mohammed Dirie, 22, and Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24 – also are charged with importing weapons and ammunition for the purpose of terrorist activity. Nine face charges of receiving training from a terrorist group, while four are charged with providing training. Six are charged with intending to cause an explosion that could cause serious bodily harm or death.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *