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Ontario court sentences convicted 'Toronto 18' leader to 16 years

The Ontario Superior Court on Monday sentenced [press release] Fahim Ahmad [JURIST news archive], the leader of the Toronto 18 [CBC timeline, JURIST news archive], to 16 years in prison for his role in the terrorist organization. During the trial, the court heard evidence that Ahmad arranged training camps, produced propaganda videos and helped acquire weapons. Ahmad's sentence was greater than the 12 years suggested by the defense but less than the 18 years requested by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) [official website]. Judge Fletcher Dawson reportedly ruled that, although Ahmad was the leader, he was not very effective and lacked the ability [CBC report] to carry out any of the threatened attacks. In a letter to the court last month, Ahmad said he was living in a "fantasy world," but has since changed his views and is no longer intolerant of other religious or western people. Following the court's practice of giving double credit for time in jail prior to the trial, Ahmad has effectively already served more than eight-and-a-half years of his sentence. He could be eligible for parole in another three-and-a-half years.

The sentence follows an unanticipated change to a guilty plea mid-trial [JURIST report] in May. In February, Toronto 18 member Shareef Abdelhaleem was convicted [JURIST report] after a Canadian judge found [Toronto Star report] that virtually no evidence existed to support his claims 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, a Canadian court sentenced [JURIST report] two members of the group, Zakaria Amara and Saad Gaya [JURIST op-ed], to life and 12 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in the plot. Abdelhaleem was the first adult to be tried among the "Toronto 18," originally arrested and charged under Section 83 [Canadian DOJ backgrounder] of the Anti-Terrorism Act [text], Canada's post-9/11 legislation.

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