Canada

Agents watched bomb plot suspects for more than 6 months

Court documents made available to CBC News show the group suspected of plotting to bomb targets in Toronto and Ottawa had been under surveillance since at least January.

There are new revelations about the alleged bombing plot by a group of Toronto-area men that led to a massive police sweep last week, in court documents made exclusively available to CBC News.

According to the documents, the group is alleged to have been well-advanced on its plan to attack a number of Canadian institutions, possibly including the Parliament buildings, the RCMP and the CBC.

The documents repeat what was reported earlier this week, that the plotters hoped to take federal politicians in Ottawa hostage, and demand both the withdrawal of Canadian forces from Afghanistan and the release of some prisoners in Canadian jails.

The alleged conspirators intended to decapitate hostages as a means of gaining their demands. But later, the documents claim, one of the members, Zakaria Amara, 20, of Mississauga, Ont., became much more focused on exploding bombs at the heart of Canada's financial district, targeting the Toronto Stock Exchange, as well as the Toronto headquarters of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and an unspecified military installation.

And for the first time, it has been revealed that one of the alleged bombers, Amin Mohamed Durani, 19, enrolled in an aviation course at Toronto's Centennial College, but didn't follow through. It's the first time that the possibility of an attack from the air has arisen.

On June 2, security services swept up 17 suspects in the alleged plot. All lived in the Toronto area, although two were already in jail, serving time for weapons offences. All are now in custody, with bail hearings for most of the suspects next week.

Found nitrate on internet

Previous reports said the alleged conspirators were trying to obtain material to produce truck bombs, and the documents lay out just how advanced the group was in obtaining what it needed to make what would have been three massive truck bombs.

The intelligence investigation found that Amara had obtained a fully functional remote triggering device and he was actively seeking ways to obtain nitric acid to be used as a triggering device for the ammonium nitrate the group thought it had obtained. Investigators knew about the remote control because of a surreptitious search of Amara's residence.

To obtain the ammonium nitrate, Amara searched for suppliers on the internet, using the facilities of a public library, the documents say. Since ammonium nitrate is difficult to get, the group allegedly hatched the plan to buy a farm as a cover for obtaining the fertilizer.

Police even uncovered business cards that might have been used as a cover.

Aiding bomb-making plans

The documents also allege that Shareef Abdelhaleen, 30, of Mississauga was also helping Amara to collect the bomb-making ingredients and find a secure place to store the chemicals and other material. It was Abdelhaleen who paid an undercover police officer the $2,000 down payment for the chemicals, after obtaining the money from Amara, the documents say.

The group also had a plan, and at one point had a rental agreement, for a house in Toronto where the bomb-making supplies would be stored and the bombs constructed. But they later changed their minds and moved to a warehouse.

Two other suspects, Saad Khalid, 19, of Mississauga and a young offender, were arrested at the warehouse last Friday. They had apparently been lining cardboard boxes with plastic as a means of hiding the fertilizer bags.

The documents also list a number of incidents, going back to January 2006, indicating that Canadian security services have had the group under surveillance for a considerable period.

Reference is made in the documents to intercepted telephone conversations, observations of group members brandishing semi-automatic weapons, even the contents of a note in one of the suspect's luggage during a flight from Pakistan to Canada in March this year.