Canada·In Depth

Terrorism-related cases with Canadian connections

Canada's ties to incidents of domestic and international terrorism.

Recent cases where Canadians have been accused or identified as having ties with terrorism-related activity at home and abroad.

International incidents

Algeria gas-plant attack

On Jan. 16, 2013, a group of about 40 heavily armed Islamists took over a sprawling gas plant in Algeria near the Libyan border and held it for four days before Algeria's military retook the installation. At the end of the siege, the attackers triggered  a massive explosion. Of several hundred hostages, 38 were killed. The attackers, almost all of whom were killed in the military raid, were from a number of countries, including Canada:

Xris Katsiroubas, one of the Canadians killed while staging an attack on an Algerian gas refinery in January 2012. (CBC)
  • Xris Katsiroubas: The 22-year-old from London, Ont., was killed in the attack on the Algerian gas refinery. He grew up in a middle-class London neighbourhood and attended London South Secondary school. He lived with his mother after his parents divorced, and by all accounts seemed normal. One former friend recalls that in the early years, at least, "he was like all the other kids, very smart in school, quite active."
  • Ali Medlej: A former London, Ont., high school student linked to al-Qaeda who was killed carrying out the attack on the Algerian gas plant. Medlej was one of 36 people arrested by authorities in neighbouring Mauritania in late 2011 during a broad round-up of suspected al-Qaeda extremists in the North African nation. He was reportedly held and interrogated for about 40 days, and then simply released into the deserts of Mauritania before Canadian authorities were informed of his detention.
  • Aaron Yoon: A former high school classmate of Medlej and Katsiroubas, Yoon was arrested in the same al-Qaeda sweep that nabbed Medlej in Mauritania. But unlike his pal, Yoon was not released - he was sentenced in 2012 to two years in jail allegedly for having ties to a terrorist group and posing a danger to the national security of Mauritania. He was held in a prison in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania​, until his release and return to Canada in July 2013. Yoon was studying at a religious school in Mauritania before his arrest and imprisonment in the country. There is no evidence Yoon ever planned to participate in the Algerian refinery attack, and he has denied any involvement in terrorist activities.
  • Ryan Enderi: A fourth classmate of the group from London, Ont., is Ryan Enderi. Also known as Mujahid, Enderi, is a Libyan-Canadian from London who is believed to have travelled overseas around the same time as the three other young men from the same community. Enderi attended the same London, Ont., high school as Medlej, Katsiroubas and Yoon, but was several grades behind them. May 2013 reports by the Toronto Star and CTV said Enderi was living in Tripoli, Libya.

Bulgaria bus suicide bombing

On July 18, 2012, a suicide bomber killed five Israelis, their local bus driver and himself at Burgas airport in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian government has said the bombing was orchestrated by two members of the military wing of the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.

Bulgaria says one of the two suspects lived in Lebanon "since 2006 and 2010" but used his Canadian passport to enter Bulgaria. Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has said the suspect was born in Lebanon and moved to Vancouver, B.C., with his mother when he was about eight years old. He was awarded citizenship several years later. The suspect, then 12, left Canada 10 years ago and has "not normally been a resident" here since, said Kenney. In February, Kenney said he knows the suspect's name but wouldn't reveal it.

William Plotnikov

William Plotnikov, then 15, emigrated from Russia with his family in 2005 and settled in Toronto. In his teens, William was a championship boxer in Russia and in Canada. He converted to Islam around 2009, quickly adopting extremist views. He left Canada in 2010, eventually joining an insurgent group in Dagestan, a Russian republic in the Caucasus.

Plotnikov was one of seven insurgents killed in an ambush by Russian troops in July 2012.

Rudwan Khalil Abubaker

Rudwan Abubaker reportedly died in a shootout in Chechnya in 2004.

The Abubaker family, originally from Eritrea, came to Canada as refugees and settled in East Vancouver. Rudwan graduated from high school in 1997 and then worked as an actor, a model and in a clothing store.

In June 2004 he and his friend Kamal Elbahja left Vancouver on a trip to Dubai to visit relatives. The two men flew to Dagestan on Aug. 23, 2004. The Abubaker family only learned about that trip after a shootout in Chechnya a few weeks later, on Oct. 7, in which Russian special forces say they killed four rebels.

A few days later the FSB, Russia's security agency, invited CBC journalists to Chechnya. Once there, the journalists were shown a photo of a bloated corpse, a Canadian passport, a B.C. driver's licence and an airplane ticket belonging to Rudwan Khalil Abubaker.

Domestic Charges

B.C. Legislature plot

John Stewart Nuttall, seen here in an image from the music site ReverbNation, is accused, along with Amanda Korody, of trying to detonate homemade bombs at the B.C. legislature on Canada Day 2013. (ReverbNation)

On July 2, 2013, two B.C. residents were charged with plotting an attack on the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on Canada Day. Amanda Marie Korody, 30, and John Stewart Nuttall, 39, both of Surrey, B.C., have each been charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity and possession of an explosive substance.

Police said that Korody and Nuttall had planned to carry out an attack using a pressure cooker bomb filled with nuts, bolts, nails, washers and other materials.

In Aug. 2013 the couple's lawyer, Tom Morino, told the B.C. Supreme Court he can't act for both accused and needed time to find another lawyer for Korody. Mark Jetté was named as Korody's new lawyer on Sept. 20, 2013. Their trial began on Feb. 2, 2015. 

The pair are both Canadian-born citizens, said police, and were "inspired by al-Qaeda ideology," but added the incident has no international links. 

Via train bomb plot

Three men were arrested April 22, 2013, accused in a plot to derail a passenger train in the Toronto area. Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, from Toronto, were charged with conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack and "conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group."

Both men denied the allegations. 

Raed Jeser, left, and Chiheb Esseghaier are accused of trying to carry out an al-Qaeda supported plot to derail a Via passenger train. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Ahmed Abassi, who had previously resided in Canada, was arrested the same day in New York, the FBI revealed on May 9. Abassi had been in contact with an undercover FBI agent. 

Police and international intelligence agencies had been investigating since August 2012, calling it Operation Smooth. RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said the two accused were getting "direction and guidance" from al-Qaeda in Iran.

On Sept. 23, 2013, the Crown announced it would proceed by direct indictment against Jaser and Esseghaier, bumping the case up from provincial court to Superior Court without the step of having a preliminary inquiry. Such hearings are to determine if there is enough evidence for a case to go to trial. One of the charges was dropped on the new indictment - Esseghaier is no longer facing a charge of instructing someone to carry out an activity for the benefit of a terrorist group.

In a procedural court appearance on Jan. 29, 2014, Esseghaier complained about a strip search and made statements about gay marriage.

Their trial began in February 2015. Not guilty pleas have been entered for both men. 

  • Chiheb Esseghaier had been doing doctoral research at the Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique in Varennes, Que. His mother, Raoudha Esseghaier, lives in Tunisia and told CBC News: "He is a very good boy. He loves his studies." His father, Mohammed Rached Esseghaier, questioned the evidence against his son, but admitted that in the past few years his son had changed and that the changes did not please him.

  • Raed Jaser was born in the United Arab Emirates where his Palestinian family had moved from Gaza, and was 15 when he arrived at Toronto's Pearson airport on March 28, 1993, with his mother, father and two siblings. They came to Canada from Germany where they had lived as refugee claimants for about two years. The family had fake French passports, and immediately claimed refugee status. The rest of the family eventually became Canadian citizens, but at age 20, Raed was convicted of five counts of fraud, automatically making him ineligible to apply for permanent residency under the deferred removal program. He was arrested in 2004 and ordered deported, but he appealed. He applied for a pardon of his criminal convictions, which was granted, and he was given permanent residency in 2012.

Ottawa attack plot

Misbahuddin Ahmed, Khurram Sher and Hiva Alizadeh. Arrested on Aug. 26, 2010, they were all charged with conspiracy to knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity, as well as other offences. On May 14, 2012, the Crown added a charge of  participation in the activities of a terrorist group against Ahmed and Alizadeh. In late May, 2012, federal prosecutors made a successful bid to move the cases of all three men directly to trial in Ontario Superior Court.

Misbahuddin Ahmed was found guilty of two terrorism-related charges by a jury on July 11, 2014. (CBC)
  • Misbahuddin Ahmed, an Ottawa X-ray technologist, was released on bail on Sept. 28, 2010. His trial began May 14, 2014, and the court announced July 11 that the jury had found him guilty on two charges - conspiring to knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity, and participation in the activities of a terrorist group - but not-guilty on a charge of possession of explosives.
  • Khurram Sher, a former London, Ont.-based pathologist, was released on bail Oct. 13, 2010. His trial concluded in April 2014, and a verdict of not-guilty was announced Aug. 18. Sher’s defence said he was brought to the meeting without warning and was playing along with the conversation, being non-committal on purpose.
  • Police called Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh called the ringleader the group accused of plotting attacks in Canada. A judge ruled in April 2014 that he and Ahmed would be tried separately. Alizadeh entered a surprise guilty plea in an Ottawa court on Sept. 18, 2014. He pleaded guilty to explosives possession with the intent to cause harm as part of a terrorist conspiracy and received a 24-year sentence as part of an agreement. An agreed statement of facts submitted with the plea outlined Alizadeh's efforts to create a terrorist group within Canada in the months leading up his arrest, saying he had gone to a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in 2009 and spent two months there, receiving training in the use of firearms and how to assemble remote-controlled improvised explosive devices. He also smuggled back violent propaganda videos, instructional materials on constructing triggering devices and 56 electronic circuit boards designed specifically to remotely detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs). He also maintained contact with Kurdish insurgents loosely allied with the Taliban. After returning to Canada, Alizadeh sought to start his own group in Ottawa. Alizadeh apologized in court, saying that he wanted to be de-radicalized.

Security certificates

  • Hassan Almrei, Adil Charkaoui, Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohammad Mahjoub are being held under security certificates but have not been charged.
  • Mohamed Harkat: On Jan. 20, 2011, the federal government began deportation proceedings against Harkat, who is from Algeria. On April 25, 2012, the Federal Court of Appeal ordered a new hearing to determine whether Harkat’s a national security threat, upholding the constitutionality of security certificates but excluding some of the evidence against Harkat. On Nov. 22, 2012, the Supreme Court announced it would hear an appeal of Harkat's case, testing the constitutionality of the security certificate law, and it upheld the certificate in a decision issued May 14, 2014.


  • Momin Khawaja: Arrested in 2004, he was the first person charged under the federal Anti-terrorism Act. He was convicted in 2008 of financing and facilitating terrorism and for building a remote-control device that could trigger bombs. Khawaja's initial sentence of 10½ years in prison was increased to life imprisonment by the Ontario Court of Appeal on Dec. 17, 2010. His case was reviewed by the Supreme Court in 2012. On Dec. 14, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously upheld the country's anti-terrorism law, rejecting Khawaja's appeal. The top court justices ruled that violent acts are not protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and upheld Khawaja's sentence of life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 10 years.
Momin Khawaja was convicted on terrorism charges in 2008 and given a life sentence. ((Canadian Press) )
  • Prapaharan Thambithurai: The first person convicted in Canada for raising money for a terrorist group, he was sentenced to a six-month jail term on May 11, 2010. The B.C. Court of Appeal rejected the Crown's request for a longer sentence on March 21, 2011. The charge was based on Thambithurai's collection of a single donation of $600 for the World Tamil Movement from a friend in Vancouver in 2008. He pleaded guilty.
  • Toronto 18: Of the 18 people arrested in 2006 as part of an alleged terrorist group, seven admitted guilt and four were convicted (the Supreme Court turned down an appeal request on June 4, 2012. Charges against the other seven were stayed or dropped. Ringleader Zakaria Amara received a life sentence, as did Shareef Abdelhaleem. Saad Khalid received 20 years and Saad Gaya was sentenced to 18 years.
  • Said Namouh: Arrested in Quebec in 2007, he was convicted on four terrorism-related charges in 2009 in connection with bomb targets in Germany and Austria. He was sentenced on Feb. 17, 2010, to life in prison. He can be deported if released from prison, but is fighting a deportation order.
  • Misbahuddin Ahmed: The Ottawa X-ray technologist, was found him guilty on two charges on July 11, 2014 - conspiring to knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity, and participation in the activities of a terrorist group - but not-guilty on a charge of possession of explosives.
  • Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh: Police called Alizadech the ringleader the group accused of plotting attacks in Canada. Alizadeh entered a surprise guilty plea in an Ottawa court on Sept. 18, 2014. He pleaded guilty to explosives possession with the intent to cause harm as part of a terrorist conspiracy and received a 24-year sentence as part of an agreement.


  • Ramanan MylvaganamSuresh Sriskandarajah and Piratheepan Nadarajah: They were arrested in 2006 on U.S. accusations of assisting the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist group in Sri Lanka. Mylvaganam was extradited to the U.S., entered a guilty plea and was sentenced in May 2012 to time served. The other two men were released on bail Jan. 6, 2011 to appeal their extradition order to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in Dec. 2012 that both men could be sent to the U.S. to face charges of supporting the Tamil Tigers. In October 2013 a U.S. federal judge sentenced Sriskandarajah — former president of the Tamil Students Association at the University of Waterloo, Ont. — to two years in prison, then deportation back to Canada. Also in Oct. 2013, Nadarajah pleaded guilty to attempting to buy missiles and AK-47 assault rifles on the Tigers' behalf, and was sentenced to two years in prison. 
  • Sayfildin Tahir Sharif: On Jan. 19, 2011, a U.S. court issued an arrest warrant for the Edmonton resident, also known as Faruq Khalil Muhammad 'Isa, on charges of providing material support for terrorists and conspiracy to murder U.S. nationals. Other charges have since been added to the indictment. Sharif was arrested by the RCMP and appeared before Alberta's highest court on May 2, 2014, to fight extradition to the U.S. to face terrorism and murder charges related to two 2009 suicide bombings in Iraq, but the court did not indicate when it would make a ruling. Five U.S. soldiers were killed when a truck filled with explosives was detonated at a military checkpoint in 2009.
  • Hassan Diab: On April 4, 2012, federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson ordered that Diab be extradited to France where he is a suspect in a decades-old terror bombing. On May 14, 2014, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the decision that Diab should be sent to France, which alleges the former sociology professor at the University of Ottawa participated in a deadly bombing of a Paris synagogue in October 1980.
  • Abdullah Khadr: An Ontario judge denied in 2010 a U.S. request for his extradition, and the Supreme Court of Canada decided on Nov. 3, 2011, that it would not hear the extradition case. The U.S. alleges Khadr, Guantanamo inmate Omar Khadr's brother, procured weapons on behalf of al-Qaeda, and it has been seeking to try him on terrorism-related charges.


  • Matin Abdul Stanikzy: In November 2010, the RCMP anti-terrorism squad charged Stanikzy, a landed immigrant from Afghanistan, with attempting to possess explosives with intent to endanger life, among other offences. The Crown alleges he wanted to detonate the explosives at CFB Petawawa. Stanikzy was acquitted of all charges after the case was tried in Pembroke, Ont., in November 2011.
Khurram Sher was found not guilty of planning al-Qaeda-inspired activities, becoming the first Canadian tried on terror charges to be acquitted. (CBC)
  • Mouna Diab: In 2012, Diab, a Quebec Muslim who has fought against the stereotyping of Muslims, became the first woman in Canada to face charges related to a foreign terrorist organization. She was charged with smuggling firearms parts to Hezbollah. According to the RCMP, Diab acted under the direction of a Hezbollah associate in Lebanon to buy rifle parts around Montreal and ship them to Lebanon. A federal prosecutor dropped all the charges on April 17, 2014, saying in a statement that charges were “stayed based on the determination that there was no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction,” but did not elaborate on why.
  • Khurram Sher: The former London, Ont.-based pathologist was accused in 2010 of planning al-Qaeda-inspired activities. He was released on bail Oct. 13, 2010. His trial concluded in April 2014 and a verdict of not guilty was announced Aug. 18. Sher is the first Canadian tried on terror charges to be acquitted.