TORONTO — Almost five years ago in Toronto’s suburbs and beyond two plans were being hatched to terrorize Canada.
While chilling in their intent the schemes never got very close to fruition. One was short on details, both were deeply infiltrated by police.
The so-called Toronto 18 eventually split into two groups after the leaders had a falling out. One thing the groups still had in common was a misdirected paranoia.
They worried they were being watched by the authorities, but little did they know two of their trusted confidants were police agents.
At one meeting one of the plotters instructed a man who was actually an RCMP agent to take the battery out of his cellphone so their conversation couldn’t be intercepted.
Another plotter gave an agent a test to see if he was a spy. He passed.
The story of the homegrown terror plot has only been told in bits and pieces because of various publication bans. But now, as a jury found Steven Chand and Asad Ansari guilty Wednesday of terrorist offences, the full story can be told. […]
CSIS had been monitoring Amara and Ahmad for years because of anti-western Internet chatter.
Shaikh entered the hall and sat alone. A man with a scarf covering his face approached him and identified himself as Ilyas. It was Amara. They began to chat and soon Shaikh followed Amara to a table with Ahmad, Durrani and Nishanthan Yogakrishnan.
Shaikh made up a story that he had been stopped by CSIS while travelling. Ahmad said, “Well, if CSIS came to the door they know what I’d do,” and made a shooting gesture.
Shaikh showed the group his firearms licence and Amara showed Shaikh a gun he had in his pocket, calling the bullets “cop killers.”
Ahmad, then 21, began to recruit Shaikh with emotional arguments about the oppression of Muslims. Ahmad defined the enemy as Americans and said because of Canada’s close connection to the U.S. it was also the enemy.
He told Shaikh they wanted to hold a training camp to bring people to a level of readiness at which they could help carry out terrorist acts.
The RCMP began to investigate Ahmad and Amara for terrorist activities around that time after being advised by CSIS that they posed a threat to the security of Canada.
Amara, then 20, was working at a Canadian Tire gas bar. He was a first-year electronics student at Humber College and a father to a baby girl.
Amara and Ahmad made good on their talk of a training camp in December 2005. Shaikh picked up Ahmad and Yogakrishnan, then 17, from Ahmad’s apartment and they went to a Wal-Mart to buy shovels, propane canisters and other equipment for winter camping.
The camp leaders and recruits drove up to Washago, about 90 minutes north of Toronto, early on Dec. 18, 2005. One of the cars got stuck in the snow during the drive.
The young winter campers were woefully underprepared for the extreme cold, and went to Canadian Tire for more supplies — including a stop at Tim Hortons.
Such Canadiana pops up frequently in the tale of the plot to wreak havoc on Canadian society. Another young camp attendee showed up wearing a red toque with the word Canada on it.
At the training camp participants donned camouflage gear, masks and goggles. They wriggled through the wintry woods, engaged in target practice using a handgun and paintball guns, and marched through the forest.
In the midst of those scenes were decidedly un-jihadi activities: wrestling and rolling about in the snow, and making a van spin in circles in the middle of the night in a deserted Canadian Tire parking lot.
During an obstacle course participants would be put through the paces as the trainers simulated live fire.
Not all attendees knew the terrorist purpose of the camp going in, but by the end it was clear, after Ahmad gave a fiery speech urging attendees to band together and sacrifice whatever was needed to defeat western civilization.
“Whether we get arrested, whether we (get) killed, we get tortured, our mission’s greater than just individuals,” Ahmad said.
“Rome has to be defeated and we have to be the ones that do it, no holding back. Whether it’s one man that survives, you have to do it.”…
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