Khurram Sher is a “31-year-old Montreal-born pathologist.” As a doctor, he is well educated and — even with Canada’s socialist medical system — fairly wealthy. Does he know that poverty and ignorance cause terrorism? Isn’t the U.S. State Department ready with money and education projects for him, to turn him away from the path of jihad?
“Sher knew he was funding terrorists, prosecutor argues,” by Chris Cobb and Andrew Seymour for the Ottawa Citizen, April 3:
OTTAWA — Accused terrorist conspirator Khurram Sher knew his money was going to fund terrorism and far from being an innocent caught in a web of terrorist intrigue was an active participant, Crown prosecutor Jason Wakely alleged Thursday.
Sher, a 31-year-old Montreal-born pathologist, has pleaded not guilty to conspiring with two others to facilitate a terrorist conspiracy.
Key to the case against Sher is a 70-minute conversation secretly recorded at an Ottawa apartment by RCMP anti-terrorist officers in July, 2010.
Defence lawyer Michael Edelson, who finished his final argument early Thursday, has portrayed the translation and transcript of the conversation as error-riddled, pointing out that the RCMP had used unqualified officers whose involvement in the case left them open to bias interpretations.
But Wakely said the recording was clear, the transcript accurate, and Sher’s disagreements with various words and phrases “inconsequential.”
The pathologist’s own evidence had been self-serving, evasive and often clearly in conflict with the truth, he said.
“‘I don’t remember’ is a constant refrain from Dr. Sher,” said Wakely.
Sher’s claim that he hadn’t remembered portions of the conversation until he was reminded of it after his arrest in August 2010 was one of a series of those “self-serving memory lapses”, said the prosecutor.
If Sher was, as he claims, unaware he was in the midst of a conspiracy, the conversation would have been traumatic.
“It’s not every day you have a conversation with an admitted al Qaeda member,” he said.
Sher testified that one of his alleged co-conspirators was a friend with whom he had a relationship based on a love of sports and playing fantasy hockey.
But the “sports-only” characterization of his relationship with the friend was not true, Wakely said, adding that Sher was attempting to portray himself as apolitical when the evidence showed the opposite.
“He was deeply engaged in political issues,” said Wakely. “Everyone knew that the relationship between the two was going to be a crucial issue in this case and so Sher portrayed that relationship in a manner that was clearly misleading.”
Sher had given $400 to his friend claiming he was duped into believing it was to help the poor and needy. But Wakely alleged that Sher knew the money was to fund terrorism abroad.
Sher had been an organizer of a letter-writing campaign to newspapers about numerous aspects of Canadian and American Middle East policy, claimed Wakely, but in one of many “obstinate denials” had replied “no” when asked during cross-examination if he considered Palestinians to be oppressed.
“Dr. Sher refused to admit obvious facts,” he said.
Wakely alleged that when Sher arrived in Ottawa for the July meeting, he was already committed to the terrorist cause and that his account of the recorded conversation “completely strains credibility.”
His alleged co-conspirators held little back from him in the way of information but he made no attempt to retreat from the situation, he said.
“How could you not call the police?” he said.
Wakely told Ontario Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland that there is enough evidence to convict Sher.
“Conspirators need not know every detail of a conspiracy so long as they know overarching objective, and by the end of this meeting he (Sher) knew what the overarching objective was and had agreed to help achieve it.”
But Edelson said the pathologist had done nothing illegal.
The conversation, he said, descended into “laughing, farce and all sorts of stupidity” and suggestions that Sher be named head of “the ministry of joke affairs,” Edelson said.
Attempts to pick a leader for the alleged conspiracy involved randomly drawing names, spinning a bottle or relying on a Dustbuster. Whatever name was on a piece of paper that was sucked up would become the leader….