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June 6, 2006
Hearings Today For The Canadian Suspects

Seventeen suspects arrested this weekend as part of the terrorist roundup in Toronto will have their first court hearing today, where Canada will formally charge them with conspiring to detonate at least one bomb. Zakaria Amara, the 20-year-old student and father, will be identified as the man who bought the material, and another five as his primary accomplices:

Government lawyers will allege 20-year-old Zakaria Amara, a university student and father of an 8-month-old daughter, was the man who purchased three tonnes of ammonium nitrate for bomb attacks on Canadian soil, sources have told the Star.

Court documents released yesterday claim Amara and another five suspects were involved in the bomb plot.

All 17 suspects in what police are alleging is a home-grown terrorist cell are expected to appear in a Brampton court today for the start of their bail hearings.

More details have come out in the last twenty-four hours. Earlier reports had described the purchase of the ammonium nitrate as a sting operation, but now it appears that the sting was not planned. According to the Toronto Star, investigators found out about their intended purchase and intervened quickly, replacing the ammonium nitrate with a similar but innocuous material. That appears to show that the Canadians did nothing to entrap the terror cell, and may have been caught by surprise when they made this explicit move to arm themselves.

Also, investigators also revealed that nine of the seventeen suspects attended the training camp last summer, where the terrorists shot video of their activities. Some of the activity mimicked jihadist battles in familiar territories: Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia. Four of the men arrested will be charged with recruitment and/or training for terrorism, but not the one man everyone has identified as the leader of the cell, Qayyum Abdul Jamal.

Two of the suspects are already in prison for running guns across the US border. Ali Dirie and Yasin Abdi Mohamed were caught in August at the Fort Erie Peace Bridge with both loaded weapons and ammunition, and now will face more charges in this case. Fahin Ahmad rented the car they drove but did not get charged in the earlier case, but with his involvement in the cell now exposed, he will face those charges as part of his indictment now. CNN reported at the time:

Two men tried to re-enter Canada from the United States early Saturday with handguns and ammunition strapped to their bodies, Canadian police said.

Ali Dirie, 22, and Yasin Mohamed, 23 -- both Canadians from the Toronto area -- face weapons-related charges and are in police custody in Niagara Falls, Ontario, according to a police statement. Ontario's Provincial Weapons Enforcement Team and the Niagara Regional Police Service are investigating.

Detective Sgt. Shawn Clarkson, of the Niagara Regional Police Service, would not say what led border officers to search the men.

The Canadians likely had their names on a watch list due to this investigation, which would have prompted them to search the pair when they attempted to cross the border. Finding light weapons would not have satisfied the CSIS enough to tip their hand on the entire investigation, and so they apparently allowed the prosecution to focus solely on the weapons charges and kept Ahmad free to keep engaging the terror cell. That takes a bit of nerve, and the gamble paid off handsomely for the Canadians.

The hearing will likely reveal no more details, but keep your eyes peeled just in case.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 6, 2006 5:30 AM

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