Charges in Canadian Bomb Plot Isolate 6 Ringleaders
Tuesday, June 6, 2006
TORONTO, June 5 -- Six men arrested in a broad police sweep last weekend have been charged with hatching the alleged plot to set off a powerful bomb somewhere in Ontario, according to charges made public Monday.
A total of 17 people were arrested -- 12 adults and five juveniles -- and all have been charged under Canada's post-Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism laws. But details made public Monday suggest that some members of the group may have had more limited knowledge of the alleged plot than others.
All 12 adults are charged with "knowingly participating, directly or indirectly, in the activity of a terrorist group." The terrorism-related charges against the juveniles, all of them males, have not been disclosed.
A report in the Toronto Star said police had intercepted the fertilizer to be used in the bomb and substituted a harmless powder before the arrests were made. Police officials said Monday they stood by their statement that three tons of the fertilizer, which is highly explosive when mixed with fuel oil, was "delivered" to the bombers.
Mike McDonell, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said on Saturday that police had swooped in as the danger increased and that the detained men had the "intent and capability" to carry out the bombing.
The RCMP and intelligence agents said they had been closely watching the activities of at least some of the men for an extended period before Friday's arrests. According to their statements and reports here, several members of the group came under scrutiny as a result of political conversations on the Internet that were monitored by authorities.
The investigators' interest was heightened after the visit to Toronto in March 2005 of two men from Georgia, Syed Ahmed, 21, and Ehsanul Sadequee, 19, who were later charged under anti-terrorism laws. The men allegedly met with at least three Canadians to discuss potential bombing targets, the FBI has said. The charges revealed Monday said the terrorism activity in Canada began on March 1, 2005.
According to those charges, 10 of the men gathered in a vacant wooded area north of Toronto for what authorities call "terrorism-related training." Residents of the rural area say they heard the sounds of automatic weapons and saw men in camouflage uniforms in the woods near Washago, about 90 miles north of Toronto, several times last year.
Police swept the area for evidence after the men had left, according to reports here.
Several of the men attended a storefront mosque in Mississauga, an incorporated suburb west of Toronto that is home to many immigrant groups. A key and, to some, troubling figure in that mosque was Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43, the oldest of those arrested. Some people who heard Jamal discuss politics at the mosque objected that he was trying to teach younger men that Western countries are at war with Muslims.
It is unclear how far their complaints went, but Wajid Khan, a member of Parliament and one of those who confronted Jamal at the mosque last year, said Sunday that "many people in the community were cooperating" with authorities.
The charged men, all of them said by authorities to be Canadian citizens or longtime residents, are from areas around Toronto and Kingston, Ontario. Two of those charged, Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24, and Mohammed Dirie, 22, both of whom moved from Somalia to Kingston, are already in jail, having been caught at the U.S. border last August attempting to bring handguns into Canada.