On September 23, 2015, Jaser and Esseghaier were sentenced to life imprisonment for their roles in a jihad terror plot to derail a passenger train that travels between New York City and Ontario. Throughout the trial proceedings, Esseghaier remained defiant, insisting that only the Qur’an, not a Canadian court, could judge him and shouting Qur’an verses at the jury. He wrote a statement to the jury explaining, “I required the Holy Qur’an as unique reference of my trial and the judgement of all matter of people’s life.” He exhorted jury members to exonerate him and convert to Islam: “I encourage you to retreat from the charge that has been affected to you as a first step of your sincere repentance to God.”
This jihad plot was a long time in preparation. According to Canadian officials, this bloodthirsty and unrepentant fanatic had gone to Iran within two years of beginning to plan the jihad plot, to which his trip was related. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said that Esseghaier and Jaser had been given “support from al Qaeda elements located in Iran.” These elements, he said, also gave them “direction and guidance.” According to American officials involved with the case, al-Qaeda operated out of the Iranian town of Zahedan, near the Iranian borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, passing men and money through Iran.
But now Esseghaier says he is crazy and should therefore be let off. Given that so many instances of jihad terrorism are ascribed to mental illness today, and that Esseghaier lives in Canada, where the government is so very solicitous of Muslims, he will probably be swiftly released and maybe even given a few million dollars in compensation, a la Omar Khadr.
A Tunisian man convicted in a botched Canadian terror plot is being treated in prison with anti-psychotic drugs and now plans to appeal both his conviction and his sentence, a lawyer appointed on his behalf said Wednesday.
Chiheb Esseghaier was convicted in 2015 of planning a series of never-executed terror attacks. An undercover FBI agent recorded him discussing plans to cut a hole in a Toronto-area railway bridge—possibly with a laser—poison the food on a military base, and trigger the eruption of a long-dormant volcano.
Esseghaier represented himself at trial and often acted erratically, by turns spitting, ranting and falling asleep in court. Two separate psychiatrists testified during his sentencing that he was actively delusional and likely schizophrenic. He appeared to believe that, like Jesus, he would literally be taken into heaven when he was 33. He believed prison guards were conspiring to keep the actual date from him. He mounted no real defence and refused to acknowledge the jurisdiction of the court.
(He demanded, throughout the trial, to be judged by the Koran, not Canadian law.)
On Wednesday, more than two years after his conviction, a court-appointed lawyer revealed that Esseghaier is now being treated for his mental illness in a B.C. prison. He “now understands the severity” of his life sentence, said Toronto lawyer Erin Dann and intends to widen his appeal.
Esseghaier was convicted of conspiring to commit murder for the benefit of or in association with a terrorist group, among other charges. He was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole until at least 2023….