*** I have a connection to Momin that begins when he was like 7 years old + my own involvement with CSIS was triggered by Momin's arrest in 2004. With all that has happened since, including two personal meets with the parents and siblings, I think it could be productive if I spoke with him to assess eligibility for release. MS ***
Convicted terrorist Momin Khawaja is such a danger to society that anything less than a life sentence is too lenient, Crown lawyers will argue before Ontario's highest court as Khawaja asks to be set free.
Ontario's Court of Appeal is set to hear three days of arguments, starting Tuesday, on both Khawaja's appeal and the government's cross-appeal.
Khawaja was convicted of five charges under Canada's anti-terror laws of financing and facilitating terrorism for training at a remote camp in Pakistan and providing cash to the British terrorists, as well as offering them use of a house and other assistance.
He was also found guilty of two Criminal Code offences related to building a remote-control device to set off explosions.
Khawaja was sentenced to 10 1/2 years with increased parole ineligibility.
In documents filed with the court the Crown paints a chilling picture of Khawaja as a ticking time bomb, a man from whom society can only be protected if he is under supervision for life.
"(Khawaja) is a self-proclaimed activist who espouses the downfall and destruction of western democracy and its lifestyle by any means, including violence and insurrection," Crown lawyers write.
"Khawaja is a zealot whose terrorist philosophy demonstrates that he is prepared to engage in acts of intimidation and destruction."
The Canadian-born software developer will be eligible for parole in three years and 10 months if his present sentence stands, the Crown notes.
The judge found Khawaja was a "willing and eager participant" in the British group's jihadist schemes. But the Crown failed to prove Khawaja knew the detonator, called the HiFi Digimonster, was to be used to detonate a 600-kilogram fertilizer bomb in downtown London.
In court documents, Khawaja's lawyers advance several reasons why they believe Khawaja's convictions should be overturned. Failing that, they are asking for a new trial, and if a new trial isn't granted they are asking for Khawaja's sentence to be reduced to time served.
They argue the terrorism charges should not have gone to trial after the court found a key element of the legal definition of terrorism violated a person's right to freedom of expression, religion and association.
Further, the only activities Khawaja knew he was facilitating were "militaristic acts" within armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, which don't meet the legal definition of terrorist activity, the lawyers argue.
However, the armed conflict exception does not apply in this case, Crown lawyers write.
"There was no air of reality to the suggestion that his actions supported lawful armed combat in compliance with international law," they say.
"This is a narrow, technical exception, not a licence for disaffected individuals to support and facilitate killings in foreign lands."
As for sentence, Khawaja's lawyers criticize the trial judge for not saying how much credit he gave Khawaja for pretrial custody, only that it was somewhere between two-for-one and one-for-one. That means Khawaja's total sentence was anywhere between 15 1/2 and 20 1/2 years, the lawyers write.
But the Crown argues Khawaja never showed any remorse and the sentence doesn't "reflect the extreme gravity of the terrorism offences committed."
"The evidence at trial paints a picture of a man so devoted to jihad that the idea of killing innocent people and committing violent acts is not only a goal, but a pleasure," the lawyers say.
"The sentence imposed by the trial judge does not reflect the seriousness of the offences, nor the viciousness of the offender in this case."
Khawaja should be sentenced to life, they argue, and his period of parole ineligibility set at 10 years.