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Supreme court reviews first conviction under anti-terrorism act - Zirconium Plate by grehh hernjer

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Supreme court reviews first conviction under anti-terrorism act - Zirconium Plate by
Article Posted: 05/24/2013
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Supreme court reviews first conviction under anti-terrorism act - Zirconium Plate

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In 2004, Mohammad Momin Khawaja became the first Canadian chargedunder Canada's anti-terrorism act. He was convicted four yearslater and is now serving a life sentence. On Monday, The Supreme Court of Canada begins a review of the case. Khawaja was born in the Ottawa area in 1979, the second son of Azraand Mahboob Khawaja, who immigrated to Canada in 1975. While Mominwas a child, his family also lived in Libya, Pakistan and SaudiArabia before returning to Canada in 1991.

In pre-sentencing statements to the court in 2009, both parentssaid theirs was "a traditional Muslim family." After graduating from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Secondary School in 1998,Khawaja attended Algonquin College, graduating in computerprogramming in 2001. A 'normal kid' in Ottawa Azra Khawaja, left, and Mahboob Khawaja, parents of Momin Khawaja,leave the Ottawa courthouse during a break in hearings June 23,2008. (Chris Wattie/Reuters) Three years later, family friend Fazal Khan would tell The OttawaCitizen that at the time, "He was just like any other normal kid,"adding, "There was nothing special about him." "I was once a normal kid," doing the things kids do, Khawajahimself wrote in 2003 email. Then he realized, "All those fun activities were a waste of timeand did not benefit Islam in any way." In that September 2003 email, he said the Palestinian intifada andthe 2001 war in Afghanistan had a huge influence on him.

In 2002,he went to Pakistan to spend time at what he described as amujahedeen training camp. That email was submitted as evidence during his trial. In a December 2003 email, Khawaja had written that the person heloved most in the world was Osama bin Laden. Khawaja returns to Pakistan for training A year after graduating from college Khawaja was working forSprectra FX, a company doing contract work at the Department ofForeign Affairs in Ottawa, which is where Khawaja was working whenarrested. In 2003, Khawaja twice travelled to Pakistan, with both tripsincluding time at training camps.

By then, Khawaja had made connections with men who would bearrested in the U.K. and the U.S. and charged in relation to thesame plot as Khawaja. Omar Khyam was the group's leader. They hadacquired 600 kg of fertilizer, which police claimed they planned touse to carry out terrorist bombings in London.

The hifidigimonster, a remote control device built by Khawaja, wasintroduced as evidence at the Ottawa Courthouse on July 14, 2008. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press) After he returned to Ottawa following his last trip to Pakistan,Khawaja was working on building a wireless transmitter fortriggering a bomb detonator, named the hifidigimonster, for thegroup in the U.K. In February 2004, Khawaja flew to the U.K. to meet with Khyam andthe group and show them pictures of his hifidigimonster.

However,MI-5 had the group under surveillance by then photos andrecordings of Khawaja's conversations were used as evidence duringhis trial. The MI-5 proceded to alert the RCMP about Khawaja. The next month, in Madrid, ten near-simultaneous explosions on commuter trains killed 191 people. Police, listening in on Khyam's conversations, learned that Khawajaplanned to leave for the U.K. on April 6 and decided it wasimperative that they act right away.

Khawaja and the London plotters arrested On March 29, 2004 police arrested Momin Khawaja and searched theKhawaja family residence, finding the hifidigimonster n his olderbrother Qasim's bedroom. According to the judge who found MominKhawaja guilty, Qasim's bedroom "seemed to be the site" where thedevice "was being developed and modified." Family members weredetained but later released. Momin Khawaja leaves the Ottawa courthouse May 3, 2004 under RCMPprotection. Khawaja was convicted of five charges under Canada'santi-terror laws. (Tom Hanson/Canadian Press) Hours after Khawaja's arrest, as part of what they called OperationCrevice, police in the U.K.

arrested Khyam and other men. The U.K. suspects were tried first, in a trial lasting 13 monthswhere the jury spent 27 days deliberating the longest ever for aU.K. crime case.

In the end, five of the defendents, Omar Khyam,Anthony Garcia, Jawad Akbar, Waheed Mahmood, and Salahuddin Amin,were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. American citizen Mohammed Junaid Babar was also arrested,eventually pleading guilty in a United States court on multipleterrorism charges related to his involvement with the U.K. group. Khawaja's own trial took place in 2008 and Babar was the Crown's'star' witness. He was convicted on five counts but not for the London bomb plot.

In Justice Douglas Rutherford's judgment, "The evidence does notlead inescapably, or beyond a reasonable doubt, to the conclusionthat Momin Khawaja was privy to the fertilizer bomb plot or itsexistence." Rutherford sentenced Khawaja to serve a further 10.5 years in jail. On Dec. 17, 2010 the Ontario Court of Appeal increased Khawaja's sentence to life imprisonment, arguing that terrorism "must be dealt within the severest of terms.".

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