Guilty verdict in "Toronto 18" bomb plot trial

Wed Jun 23, 2010 6:18pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian jury has convicted the final two members of the "Toronto 18" extremist group for their role in a 2006 al Qaeda-style bomb plot to blow up Toronto landmarks, local media reported on Wednesday.

Asad Ansari and Steven Chand were found guilty by a jury of participating in a terrorist group. Chand was also found guilty of counseling to commit fraud, the Toronto Star newspaper reported on its website.

The arrests of the men -- dubbed the "Toronto 18" by news media -- came after the 2005 London Underground bombings and surprised Canadians with the idea that a similar home-grown terror cell could exist in Canada.

Police had been monitoring the group through undercover informants and swooped down on the would-be bombers after they attempted to buy three tonnes of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, which can be used to make powerful explosives.

The Muslim extremist group was angered by Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan.

Of the others charged in the case, seven had the charges against them dropped, two were found guilty in non-jury trials, and seven -- including the ringleader -- pleaded guilty.

Ansari and Chand were not considered high-level players in the group, but the trial marked the first time a Canadian jury has ruled on such a case since the country overhauled its anti-terrorism laws, the Star reported.

The two men are now awaiting sentencing.

(Writing by Allan Dowd; editing by Rob Wilson)