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Cablegate: "Life Sentence" for "Toronto 18" Ringleader Permits Parole

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHON #0038/01 0192241
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O R 191642Z JAN 10
FM AMCONSUL TORONTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0071
INFO RHEFHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM PETERSON AFB CO
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ BICE INTEL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0001
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO
RUEILB/NCTC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS TORONTO 000038

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PINR PGOV CA
SUBJECT: "LIFE SENTENCE" FOR "TORONTO 18" RINGLEADER PERMITS PAROLE
IN SIX YEARS

REF: 09 TORONTO 106; 09 TORONTO 210; 09 OTTAWA 768; 09 TORONTO 240

1. (U) Summary. Canadian courts have sentenced one key participant
in the "Toronto 18" terror plot to life imprisonment and another to
twelve years, but they will be eligible for parole in 2016 and
2011, respectively, partly due to Canadian sentencing policies that
give double credit for pretrial detention. The government is
likely to re-introduce legislation to eliminate the double credit
for pretrial custody in the next session of the House of Commons.
End Summary.

2. (U) Twenty-four-year-old Zakaria Amara, identified by
prosecutors as the ringleader of the "Toronto 18" terror plots and
who pled guilty in October 2009, was sentenced to life in prison on
January 18. However, under Canadian sentencing law he will be
eligible for parole in 2016. Co-conspirator Saad Gaya, 22, who
pled guilty in September 2009, was sentenced the same day to 12
years in prison, but will be eligible for parole in 18 months after
being given double credit for pretrial custody.

3. (U) Amara admitted to recruiting people, helping to lead a
terrorist training camp, creating remote-controlled detonators, and
purchasing three tons of what he thought was ammonium nitrate
fertilizer for truck bombs. Gaya, a university student, was
arrested in a police sting while unloading a delivery truck filled
with three tons of a harmless substance substituted for the
fertilizer. He had been selected by the group's leaders to drive
one of the bomb-laden trucks to its target.

4. (U) Dissatisfied with the comparatively light sentence of at
least one "Toronto 18" defendant, Crown prosecutors are appealing
the sentencing of Saad Khalid, who on September 3, 2009 received 14
years. Credit for pretrial detention in Khalid's case
significantly reduced the time he will serve in prison. In filing
the notice of appeal, Crown prosecutors stated that the sentence
did not fit the "gravity of the offense and the culpability of the
offender."

5. (U) Since the initial arrests of 18 Toronto-area men in 2006 for
a plot to carry out terrorist attacks in Southern Ontario to
protest Canada's military presence in Afghanistan, the following
have been convicted:

a) Nishanthan Yogakrishnan, 21, was convicted in September 2008 and
sentenced to 30 months on May 22. Given credit for time-served, he
has already been released;

b) Ali Mohamed Dirie, 26, pled guilty on September 21 to
participating in the activities of a terrorist group; he received a
seven-year sentence and will receive double credit for time in
pretrial detention;

c) Saad Khalid, 23, was sentenced to 14 years in prison on
September 4 and will receive double credit for time in pretrial
detention;

d) Saad Gaya, 21, pled guilty on September 28 and was sentenced to
12 years;

e) Zakaria Amara, 23, pled guilty on October 8 and was sentenced on
January 18 to life in prison.

Of the remaining members of the "Toronto 18" terror plot arrested
in 2006, one man's trial began last week and five others face trial
in March. They cannot be identified due to an ongoing publication
ban. Charges against the other seven members were either stayed or
dismissed.

6. (SBU) Comment: The life sentence for Amara is viewed as a
significant victory for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP),
who have seen previous "Toronto 18" convictions result in
comparatively light sentences. A proposed law was introduced in
March 2009 to eliminate the practice of giving defendants double
credit for time spent in pretrial custody, but the bill died when
Parliament was prorogued on December 30. The government is likely
to re-introduce the bill soon after the House of Commons reconvenes


on March 3.
JOHNSON

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