Toronto bomb plotter Khalid gets 14 years
Ontario judge calls terrorist offences 'the most vile form' of crime
A man who pleaded guilty in the so-called Toronto 18 plot aimed at bombing targets in the city's downtown was sentenced Thursday to 14 years in prison, but was credited with seven years for time already served.
Saad Khalid admitted in a Brampton, Ont., court that he was a member of a group that planned to commit a "despicable crime" by detonating bombs outside the Toronto Stock Exchange and the headquarters of CSIS, Canada's spy agency.
Khalid, who was arrested in 2006 while unloading what he believed was at least two tonnes of ammonium nitrate, pleaded guilty in May 2009 to one count of participating in a militant plot with the intention of causing an explosion.
The 23-year-old former university student has already served 39 months in pre-trial custody.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Bruce Durno said he accepted Khalid was not the leader of the group but his degree of responsibility "remains fairly high."
"This was not a spur-of-the-moment offence," Durno said, calling terrorist offences "the most vile form" of criminal activity.
Russell Silverstein, Khalid's defence lawyer, said his client accepts the sentence and has no plans to appeal.
"Is he happy? Yes, he is content with the outcome," Silverstein told CBC News.
He said Khalid will be eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence, but added that there is not a long legal history in Canada of people being convicted of terrorism and later seeking parole.
Durno ruled that parole eligibility would be up to the National Parole Board since Khalid is a first-time offender.
'I am not a lunatic'
In his appeal for clemency last week, Khalid said his participation in the plot arose from his disagreement with Canada's foreign policy and military mission in Afghanistan.
"I am not a lunatic who is hell-bent on destruction of Western civilization," he told the court.
The Crown had called for an 18- to 20-year sentence, but the defence suggested that time already served in jail and a two-year prison term would be appropriate.
Originally, 17 men and youths were arrested in the Toronto area in June 2006 and detained following an investigation by CSIS. An 18th person was arrested in August of that year.
Khalid is among 17 who were charged with several terrorism-related offences. The charges were later stayed or dropped against some of the accused.
One suspect, a minor at the time of his arrest, was convicted in September 2008 of conspiring to bomb several targets. He was the first person convicted under Canada's terrorism laws.
He was sentenced in May 2009 to 2½ years in prison. The judge then freed him, granting him credit for time already spent in custody.
With files from The Canadian Press