One of the few stories to use the word “jihad” – “Held without bail in Ottawa prison, this man may help Britain unravel its domestic menace,” from the Globe and Mail, with thanks to Srkrishna.
Mohammad Momin Khawaja remains locked up in maximum-security detention at Ottawa’s Regional Detention Centre, as he has for more than a year, denied bail as he stands accused of conspiring in a plot to blow up British citizens.
On the face of things, that alleged plot bears a remarkable resemblance to the jihadist strike that killed 53 Londoners on the city’s transit system last week. And as investigators in London grapple with how four homegrown lads became suicide bombers, they may well see an important case study in the matter of a 26-year-old Canadian and his alleged British and U.S. cohorts.
Allegations of that previous plot remain a major concern in their own right: Sources say U.S. President George W. Bush brought up Mr. Khawaja when he met Prime Minister Paul Martin at a security summit in Texas during the spring…
He didn’t escape attention. Months before he was accused of terrorism, Mr. Khawaja allegedly travelled to Pakistan, where he is said to have become close to an admitted al-Qaeda-linked figure. That 30-year-old man, a Pakistani American named Mohammed Junaid Babar, has pleaded guilty in a New York court to running training camps and procuring ammonium nitrate, an explosive chemical, for al-Qaeda.
“They wanted to, you know, plot or target some targets in the U.K.,” Mr. Babar told a judge when he pleaded guilty, without naming names. Now co-operating with police, he said that plot fell apart in “March of ’04.”
Around that time, as terrorist figures met in Pakistan to fine-tune plans against Britain, Mr. Khawaja allegedly went on to the United Kingdom, where, according to British prosecutors, he met fellow conspirators in an Internet cafÃ© and talked to them about making bombs. Fears sparked by communications intercepts were made tangible weeks later when Scotland Yard seized a half-tonne of ammonium nitrate from a storage shed.
On that same March day, officers belonging to the RCMP’s tactical squad broke down the door of the Khawaja family’s two-storey, white-frame home in the Ottawa suburb of Orleans. They briefly detained relatives as they found their suspect at his job: Mr. Khawaja had recently returned from Britain to go back to work fixing computers for Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department…