Court ups sentences of three Canadian 'terrorists'

17th December 2010, Comments 0 comments

A court on Friday increased the sentence of the first Canadian found guilty under the country's anti-terrorism law to life imprisonment for his role in a foiled plot against British targets.

In a separate move, the court also increased sentences of two men who had planned attacks on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Mohammed Momin Khawaja, 30, was originally sentenced in March 2009 to 10 and a half years, but the Ontario Court of Appeal concluded that the trial judge erred in interpreting sentencing guidelines.

"The Court of Appeal today recognized that terrorism is a global threat to peace and security, and that innocent lives around the world must be protected from terrorists, wherever they are based," the Public Prosecution Service of Canada said.

"The court clearly stated that Canada is not a safe haven for would-be terrorists," it added.

The Ottawa software developer of Pakistani descent was found to have "knowingly participated" and "knowingly facilitated" a terrorist group's plan to attack a popular London nightclub, a shopping mall and a gas network.

Arrested in March 2004, Khawaja was accused of developing detonators for his British associates, possessing explosives, financing terrorism and training as a terrorist in Pakistan.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Douglas Rutherford wrote in his 52-page decision that while Khawaja may not have known the specific details of the plot, he was aware that a detonator he built would be used for a bomb.

Prosecutors had sought a maximum life sentence of 44 to 58 years in prison for Khawaja, similar in length to those handed to five of his co-conspirators in Britain, and had appealed the lighter sentence.

In a separate decision, the court also increased the sentences of two members of the "Toronto 18," arrested in 2006 in a police sting operation for planning three days of attacks on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Canada's spy agency and a military base using rented vans stuffed with explosives.

The sentence of Saad Khalid, 24, was increased to 20 years imprisonment, from 14 years. Saad Gaya, 23, will serve 18 years in prison instead of 12 years.

Khalid and Gaya were among 14 adults and four minors charged after they allegedly sought to purchase three tons of the bomb-making ingredient ammonium nitrate from undercover police officers.

The officers had replaced the ammonium nitrate with an inert substance.

The scheme, which the plotters had hoped would be deadlier than the July 2005 London Underground and bus bombings that killed 52 people, was designed to pressure Canada to withdraw from Afghanistan.

"The court has indicated that individuals who threaten our peaceful and democratic society by plotting to kill innocent citizens for ideological causes will receive sentences that reflect the gravity of their crimes," said prosecutors.

© 2010 AFP

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