Monday, September 27, 2010


*** A bit player goes home. MS ***

BRAMPTON — One of the final men convicted in the Toronto 18 terrorist plot is set to become an officially free man next week.

Asad Ansari, 25, was convicted in June of participating in the terrorist group, which plotted to storm Parliament and detonate powerful truck bombs in downtown Toronto.

“He was the technical expert of Fahim Ahmad’s terrorist group,” Crown attorney Sarah Shaikh said this morning during Ansari’s sentencing hearing in Superior Court. Ringleader Ahmad, 26, is also embroiled in sentencing proceedings today.

Both the Crown and the defence are calling for Ansari to be sentenced to time served, and Justice Fletcher Dawson has indicated he will accept their submissions. His formal decision will come down Oct. 4.

With two-for-one credit taken into account, Ansari has effectively served six years and five months of prison time. He has been on strict house-arrest bail since August 2009, and Justice Fletcher Dawson said it would be “a real hardship” to send him back to prison at this juncture.

“I think that would be unfair,” Judge Dawson said, noting “it’s obvious [Ansari] is taking steps to undergo his education and rehabilitate himself.”

Defence lawyer John Norris said his client has been taking courses and is “moving his life once again in a very positive direction.”

Ansari has been characterized in court as a minor player in the Toronto 18 plot. He attended a terrorist training camp in the winter of 2005, but says he did not know its true purpose at the time.

The Crown disputes that contention, pointing to various militaristic activities at the camp and the presence of a black-and-white jihadi-style flag.

“When he saw the black flag… He certainly would have known by that time that he was attending a terrorist camp,” Ms. Shaikh said.

She also pointed to evidence of how Ansari, a technical whiz, assisted Ahmad by clearing terrorist material and malicious software from his computer: “He essentially wiped [it] clean.”

The defence and the Crown are both recommending a three-year probationary term for Ansari, but there is some dispute over how stringent the conditions should be — a matter the judge will resolve when he hands down his final decision next Monday.

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