Charges stayed for four Canadian terror suspects

Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:39pm EDT
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By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada has set aside charges against four suspects in an alleged al Qaeda-inspired terror plot, nearly two years after their arrest, a spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office said on Tuesday.

"If there is no further action in a one-year period then basically they have the same effect as being dropped," said Dan Brien of the government's decision to have the charges stayed.

Three of the men who had their charges stayed on Tuesday also signed peace bonds, which promise good behavior, set a curfew and limit their association with certain people.

The four were among 18 people who were arrested in June 2006 on charges that included planning bomb attacks in major Canadian cities, belonging to a terrorist group, and giving or receiving training in terrorism.

Last year, charges against three young offenders who were arrested in the police sweep were also stayed. Charges are proceeding against 10 adults and one young offender.

Police arrested the group after members allegedly attempted to buy three metric tons of what they thought was ammonium nitrate, the bomb-making ingredient that was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City blast that killed 168 people.

According to police, members of the group discussed bomb targets that allegedly included the Toronto Stock Exchange and the Toronto headquarters of Canada's spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

One of the defendants allegedly talked of storming the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa and taking legislators hostage to try to force the government to withdraw Canadian troops from Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue; editing by Rob Wilson)