Toronto 18 informant asked RCMP for $15M
An RCMP informant central to disrupting a plot to bomb several targets in Ontario initially requested $15 million in compensation from the Mounties, court heard Tuesday.
Shaher Elsohemy was in his second week of testimony at the trial of his former friend Shareef Abdelhaleem, who has pleaded not guilty to participating in a terrorist group and intending to detonate bombs.
The explosions were to occur outside the Toronto Stock Exchange, at CSIS offices in Toronto and at an Ontario military base in what's known as the Toronto 18 terror plot.
Ringleader Zakaria Amara, 24, was handed the stiffest sentence Monday under Canada's terrorism laws — life — though he can seek parole in 2016.
Abdelhaleem's lawyer William Naylor has said both publicly and in court that the compensation for Elsohemy's work to infiltrate the plot and for putting him under witness protection was $4.1 million, but documents Naylor showed in court Tuesday revealed Elsohemy was offered up to $3.99 million.
But when Elsohemy first discussed money with the RCMP in April 2006 — he had been meeting with CSIS agents before becoming a paid RCMP agent — he asked for $15 million, but was told that amount was too high.
"That was my highest level I started negotiating with," Elsohemy acknowledged Tuesday under cross-examination from Naylor.
"It was more what they asked me to go through … the cost of relocation and the suffering that myself and my family has to go through."
Moral convictions cited
Elsohemy testified last week that his participation in the police operation wasn't motivated by money, but by a desire to be a moral, responsible Canadian citizen.
Abdelhaleem, 34, and 17 others were arrested and charged in the summer of 2006 in what Amara's sentencing judge characterized as a "spine-chilling" plot that but for the intervention of Abdelhaleem and another police agent would have been "the most horrific crime Canada has ever seen."
Elsohemy confirmed he received a payout of $500,000 and his parents and two brothers also received a total of $500,000.
The remaining $2.99 million consisted of money to cover costs for Elsohemy and several family members — including his wife and daughter — to relocate. Some of the figures were decided upon as fixed amounts, while the RCMP offered up to a certain amount for other costs, court heard.
Naylor showed the court documents itemizing the various amounts.
The fixed costs were listed as:
- Up to $750,000 for the loss of Elsohemy's business.
- $100,000 for Elsohemy's two cars.
- $100,000 for "start-up" including furniture.
- $200,000 in a category that had been blacked out on the document.
- $75,000 for his parents' cars.
- $40,000 for his parents' debts.
They also included $30,000 for his youngest brother's car, $100,000 for startup for his youngest brother, $100,000 for his older brother's debts, $30,000 for his older brother's car and a further $150,000 under another blacked out category.
The documents showed the RCMP compensation package also included offers of:
- Up to $900,000 for Elsohemy's home.
- Up to $40,000 for dental work for his wife.
- Up to $50,000 to cover his debts.
- Up to $300,000 for his parents' home.
- Up to $25,000 for his youngest brother's debts.
While the fixed costs amounted to some $2.68 million it's not clear if Elsohemy and his family used all of the "up to" money, some of it or none.
The total amount offered differs drastically from what the other RCMP informant received after helping to snag the group. Mubin Shaikh received $300,000 from the Mounties.
Elsohemy has previously testified that Amara revealed his bomb plot to Elsohemy and Abdelhaleem at a restaurant and that Abdelhaleem initially objected to it, but later became excited at the prospect of profiting financially from an attack on the stock exchange.