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Canada court convicts remaining 'Toronto 18' terrorism suspects

A Canadian court on Wednesday convicted [press release] the final two members of the "Toronto 18" [Toronto Star backgrounder; JURIST news archive] for their roles in a 2006 terror plot. The Toronto 18 were arrested in 2006 after police learned of their plans to bomb sites throughout Ontario using fertilizer explosives in response to Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan. A jury in the Ontario Superior Court [official website] found Asad Ansari and Steven Vikash Chand guilty of "participation in a terrorist group," which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Chand was also found guilty of "counseling to commit fraud over $5,000 for the benefit of a terrorist group," which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, after attempting to take out fraudulent bank loans [CBC report] in order to support the group. The men have 30 days to consider an appeal, and sentencing will take place at a later date. This trial marks the first time Canadian terrorism suspects were tried in front of a jury instead of a judge.

Chand and Ansari were on trial with accused group leader Fahim Ahmad, who switched his plea to guilty mid-trial [JURIST report]. The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) [official website] confirmed that Ahmad pleaded guilty in May to one count of "instructing to carry out activity for a terrorist group," importing firearms to benefit the group and "participation in a terrorist group," which can carry a maximum life sentence. Ahmad also pleaded guilty to "participation in a terrorist group," which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. In February, Toronto 18 member Shareef Abdelhaleem was convicted [JURIST report] after a Canadian judge found no evidence of entrapment. In January, Amin Mohamed Durrani was released [JURIST report] after pleading guilty to participating in and assisting a terrorist group. Also in January, Zakaria Amara and Saad Gaya [JURIST op-ed] were sentenced [JURIST report] to life and 12 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in the plot. Seven others involved in the plot pleaded guilty, two were found guilty by a judge at trial and seven others had their charges dropped or stayed.

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