Toronto group planned 3-day bomb assault: report

Mon Jun 22, 2009 5:14pm EDT
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Members of a Toronto-area al Qaeda-inspired group planned a 3-day assault on Canadian targets in 2006 using vans filled with explosives, according to a statement from a man involved in the plot, the Toronto Star newspaper reported on Monday.

Saad Khalid, one of a group dubbed the "Toronto 18" who were arrested in police sting in 2006, plead guilty to his role in the alleged plot in May.

The details were released as part of an agreed statement of facts at his sentencing hearing, which began on Monday and is expected to last the rest of the week, according to the paper.

Khalid, 22, is the first of the group to enter a guilty plea in the case.

According to the statement of facts, the bomb plot was scheduled to go ahead in November 2006, targeting the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Toronto offices of Canada's spy agency and an undisclosed military base located between Toronto and Ottawa, according to the paper.

The scheme, which was to involve three rented vans filled with explosives, was intended to be deadlier than the July 2005 London Underground bombings, and was to be carried out over three days.

Members of the group hoped the attacks would prompt Canada to pull its military out of Afghanistan, according to the report.

Police eventually swept in and arrested the group after they allegedly tried to buy three tonnes of what they thought was ammonium nitrate -- a bomb-making ingredient used in the 1995 Oklahoma city blast -- from undercover police officers.

One other man -- who was a youth at the time of his arrest -- has been found guilty in connection with the case, while charges have been dropped against three youths and four adults. The trial for the remaining adults is expected to begin next week.

(Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Frank McGurty)