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Homegrown terror plot, a`jihadi fantasy,' court told

June 18, 2008 Torstar News Service

http://www.thespec.com/News/BreakingNews/article/388543
TheSpec.com - BreakingNews - Homegrown terror plot, a`jihadi fantasy,' court told


 The alleged ringleader of a homegrown terror plot lived in a "jihadi fantasy" with "no clear plan" on how to carry out a massive attack on Canada, the Crown's star witness told a Brampton court yesterday.

Even though plans to storm Parliament Hill, behead politicians and detonate bombs may have seemed laughable, it was often accompanied by terrorist rhetoric, said police mole Mubin Shaikh.

He add that the alleged ringleader was extremely influential.

"You and I know it's a fantasy but he didn't think it was a fantasy it was like full steam ahead, keep going," said Shaikh, who managed to infiltrate the Toronto 18 and gain the alleged leader's confidence.

"This is the thing that bothers me: Do I laugh or do I shiver?"

At the trial of a youth accused of being a co-conspirator, Shaikh agreed with defence lawyer Mitchell Chernovsky that the man at the helm of an alleged terror cell was delusional, nuts and a world-class exaggerator.

Court was told that the alleged ringleader, who once bragged that the Mujahideen in Iraq hailed him a "lion," boasted about importing crates of high-powered weapons, but they never materialized. He spoke of wanting to buy property in northern Ontario to serve as a safe house, but was penniless. He planned to attack the RCMP's headquarters, but didn't know where it was located. And he wanted to storm a heavily fortified armoury, but only possessed a single 9-millimetre handgun.

Shaikh said he wasn't the only one who suspected the so-called lion was a megalomaniac, saying even his RCMP handler described him and his lofty goals as "grandiose."

Yet there was another side to him too, suggested Chernovsky, adding he was a devout Muslim, who was extremely charismatic and had a great rapport with youths.

One such youth was his client, who viewed the alleged ringleader as a mentor who could guide him after his conversion to Islam.

In earlier testimony, Shaikh said that even though the young man on trial was close to the alleged ringleader and always appeared eager to please him, he was never told of any terrorist plot.

When Chernovsky suggested there was little probability of a nefarious scheme ever coming to fruition, Shaikh responded, "This has been my story from Day 1."

His testimony could be a blow to the government's landmark case, which has received an unprecedented amount of media coverage since it first made headlines in the summer of 2006, when 14 adults and four youths were netted in a massive police sweep. Since then, charges have been stayed against three youths and four adults.

In earlier testimony, Shaikh said some of the group's members, including the youths, attended a so-called terrorist training camp in December 2005, where they practised military marches, played paintball games and trained with a firearm.

The trial before Justice John Sproat resumes today.

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