'Toronto 18' member pleads not guilty to terrorism charges

[JURIST] A member of the "Toronto 18" [Toronto Star backgrounder; JURIST news archive] pleaded not guilty in a Canadian court on Monday for his alleged role in a failed 2006 terrorist plot to bomb the Toronto Stock Exchange and government buildings. Shareef Abdelhaleem, the first adult of the group to be tried, allegedly planned to profit from the attacks [Toronto Star report] by investing in and selling particular stock before the bombings. A key witness in the case, Shaher Elsoheny, left a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) [official website] witness protection program to testify against his old classmate, Abdelhaleem. Elsoheny worked as a police informant and provided intelligence [National Post report] against Abdelhaleem and others that eventually led to the arrests. Abdelhaleem's lawyer argued that his client was entrapped by Elsoheny, who was allegedly paid millions of dollars [Globe and Mail report] by the RCMP for his assistance in the investigation.

The accused leader of the terrorist group, Zakaria Amara, pleaded guilty [JURIST report] in October to charges of planning to bomb three targets in Ontario. The same month, another member of the group, Ali Mohamed Dirie, was sentenced to seven years in prison [JURIST report] for his part in the plot, while another, Saad Gaya, pleaded guilty. In September, the first of the group to plead guilty, Saad Khalid, was sentenced to 14 years in prison [JURIST report], though the Canadian government is seeking to alter that sentence for time already served. The first of the suspects to be convicted under Canada's post-9/11 terrorism law was sentenced and released [JURIST reports] in May, with the court citing time served. The "Toronto 18," arrested [JURIST report] in 2006, are accused of planning a series of violent attacks on civilians, public officials, and government buildings.

 

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