Canada Day plot bombs were set to go off at peak of event
Depth of undercover police work's involvement in alleged plot to attack B.C. legislature questioned
CBC News has learned the timing of the arrests of the accused in the thwarted Canada Day bomb plot was key, with the suspects heading to a pre-arranged getaway rendezvous just as the bombs were set to go off.
John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were lured to an isolated spot in Abbotsford — on the B.C. mainland, outside of Vancouver — at 2 p.m. PT on Canada Day, where RCMP officers arrested them.
In Victoria, 2 p.m. was to be a highlight of Canada Day celebrations, when people making up a "living flag" would have their photo taken together on the lawn of the B.C. legislature.
Shortly after, at 3 p.m., entertainment would start on the main stage.
Joshua Labove, a terrorism expert at Simon Fraser University, says the RCMP could afford to push a five-month investigation to the eleventh hour because undercover officers had infiltrated the plot — and had made sure the bombs would never explode.
"They want just to be able to show not just that these individuals are conspiring to commit terrorism, but that they're actually willing to go through with it," he said.
Extent of police involvement unclear
But there are other questions about how much undercover officers might have enabled the suspects.
During Tuesday's press conference, when investigators were asked if officers posed as collaborators or supplied materials, the official response was cagey.
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"The RCMP and its partner agency used all its available resources during this investigation," said assistant RCMP commissioner Wayne Rideout, referring to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
Questions have arisen about whether the accused couple were capable of hatching such an elaborate plot, and if they could have built the bombs on their own.
Andre Gerolymatos, another terrorism expert at SFU, says he hopes the RCMP didn't play a "Mr. Big" role in the investigation — something the force has done in the past.
"If the RCMP egged them along, you know, and gave them the rope to hang themselves, that's a long stretch for the police," Gerolymatos said.
Labove agrees, and says the level of police involvement in the investigation will need to be detailed in the coming weeks and months.
"If the RCMP was simply watching these individuals and potentially engaging with them, that's just good investigative work," he said. "But to suggest that they're enabling them and somehow radicalizing them I think is a potentially a more controversial point."
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With files from the CBC's Eric Rankin