Monday, February 1, 2010



In a "controlled experiment," a Superior Court judge Monday granted bomb plotter Shareef Abdelhaleem permission to personally address the court on the last day of his entrapment hearing.

Abdelhaleem, a member of the so-called Toronto 18 terrorist group, had already testified on his own behalf, but suggested he could deliver final arguments more effectively than his lawyer because he knew the "nuances of the data."

Both the judge and defence agreed it was a "bad idea," but ultimately allowed Abdelhaleem to press forward.

During a passionate address lasting the better part of an hour, Abdelhaleem argued his role as a middleman in the bomb plot was manufactured by RCMP agent Shaher Elsohemy, whose testimony made up the bulk of the Crown's case.

"The agent created that role. It didn't exist before," Abdelhaleem said.

His argument, wide-ranging and difficult to follow at times even for the judge — who repeatedly asked for clarifications — centered on a pair of meetings between Abdelhaleem and Elsohemy in the spring of 2006, weeks before authorities swooped in to foil the bomb plot.

During the first meeting in April, before Abdelhaleem had committed to join the terrorist group, Elsohemy "induced" him to attend a separate meeting with plot leader Zakaria Amara, Abdelhaleem suggested.

"He came to me and he said please be there so that I will not be photographed with Amara," Abdelhaleem said, noting he became a "sacrificial lamb" by agreeing to act as a go-between for Amara and Elsohemy. The goal, he said, was to protect the identity of Elsohemy, who had a young family.

Prior to that date, the court has heard, Abdelhaleem opposed the bomb plot, believing it to be Islamically unsound.

Before another scheduled meeting with Amara in May, Abdelhaleem said he urged Elsohemy not to attend because of the aforementioned concerns for his friend's safety.

"We fought for an hour," Abdelhaleem said, noting this refuted the Crown's theory that he was a "willing collaborator and trusted confidante" in the bomb plot. Rather, he emphasized, he was drawn in as a middleman through his association with Elsohemy.

"I couldn't have been in the middle for my sake. That doesn't make logical sense," a seemingly agitated Abdelhaleem told the court.

Abdelhaleem also attacked the Crown's theory that he was a key player in the bomb plot because he initiated orders for explosive chemicals through Elsohemy, who was posing as a source for such materials.

Abdelhaleem argues he was simply conveying messages from Amara.

In various police intercepts of conversations, however, Elsohemy is heard asking Abdelhaleem questions to the effect of: "How much ammonium nitrate do you want?"

Abdelhaleem said he believed it was understood that "you" referred to Amara. In retrospect, he says, it was a clear attempt by Elsohemy — who was wearing a wire — to implicate Abdelhaleem as a leader.

"It was one of his tricks to try to implicate me," said Abdelhaleem, who has testified Elsohemy harboured a grudge for a past fight between their families. "It was so obvious."

The Toronto 18 terrorism plot involved detonating powerful truck bombs at the Toronto Stock Exchange, the CSIS regional office in Toronto and a military base between Toronto and Ottawa. The scheme was foiled in June 2006 after an extensive police investigation.