Canadian aided foiled U.K. bomb plot, court hears

Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:30pm EDT
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian software developer designed a remote bomb detonator he called the "hi-fi digimonster" to be used in planned attacks in the United Kingdom, an Ottawa court heard on Monday.

In his opening statement, prosecutor David McKercher laid out in extraordinary detail the evidence he will use against Momin Khawaja, 29, to try to prove he was "directly involved" in the British bomb plot.

But the first day of the high-profile trial ended with a giant question mark as Khawaja's lawyer tried to discredit the prosecution's star witness, saying much of what he offered as evidence was "hearsay" and therefore should be ruled inadmissible. The judge will say on Tuesday whether or not he upholds the objection.

In his summary, McKercher drew from intercepted e-mails and taped conversations to describe how Khawaja, who lived a seemingly innocuous middle-class life in Ottawa, espoused extremist, violent views and was prepared to participate in killing hundreds of civilians.

He said Khawaja met with members of a terrorist cell during visits to London in 2003 and 2004, kept them updated on his efforts to develop a detonator device and attended a paramilitary training camp in Pakistan where he learned how to use automatic assault rifles and grenade launchers.

Khawaja said "Osama bin Laden was the most beloved person in the world," McKercher told the court, citing an online blog posting allegedly written by the accused in December 2003.

Khawaja -- the first Canadian to be charged under a tough anti-terrorism law -- faces seven charges centering on the use of explosives, participating in a terrorist group and financing a terrorist group. He could face life in prison if found guilty.

He has pleaded not guilty on all counts.   Continued...

<p>Police officers stand guard outside a warehouse where more than half a tonne of ammonium nitrate fertilizer was recovered in west London, March 30, 2004. REUTERS/David Bebber</p>