*** Does anybody honestly think people don't read the news? There are 12 such people deciding this case right now - in addition to the trial by media that has already been long underway. Only the one who was there can truly say what happened as a matter of fact under law.
That and, 'no comment'. :) MS ***
A man charged with aiding the so-called Toronto 18 terrorist cell has told an Ontario court that when he was invited on a winter camping trip by one of the group's leaders, he was unaware he was actually being asked to attend a training camp.
Asad Ansari, 25, is one of the last accused to be tried in the Toronto 18 case. Ansari testified in his own defence in a Brampton, Ont., court Tuesday morning.
He admitted attending the camp for a few days in December 2005 at Washago, Ont. But he said he went only because he was invited by his longtime friend Zakaria Amara.
Amara, one of two confessed leaders of the group, has already pleaded guilty to plotting to set off three one-tonne fertilizer bombs in downtown Toronto and at an unnamed military base to protest Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.
Amara was given a life sentence.
In court, Ansari described himself at the time of al-Qaeda's Sept. 11 attacks against the United States as a typical young Muslim man, suddenly having to look for answers.
On the one hand, Ansari testified, he saw himself as a Canadian who believed in democracy and also believed that the Muslim world could learn a lot from the West.
On the other hand, he said, after Sept. 11 there was a palpable feeling among Muslims the world over that Western societies viewed all Muslims with suspicion. He said he and other young men like him suddenly began to question where they fit into the world.
At one point, after his banker fathered revealed he could not afford to send Ansari to university because he had lost a lot of the family's money in bad investments, Ansari testified that he seriously considered suicide.
In draft suicide notes to his mother, father and younger sister, he made references to "dying for the sake of Allah."
One of the options he considered but quickly discarded was volunteering to fight with the Islamist insurgency in Iraq, he told the court.
Ansari also testified he considered non-political options such as drowning or hanging himself.
Even after leaving thoughts of suicide behind, Ansari said, with his dream of earning a degree in computer science at Waterloo University shattered, he went into a long depression and felt like "a loser."
Ansari and Steven Chand are the last two of the Toronto 18 to be on trial.
Seventeen people alleged to have been members of the group were arrested on June 2, 2006. The 18th arrest followed three weeks later.