Fahim Ahmad, the convicted leader of the so-called Toronto 18, was sentenced Monday to 16 years in prison for his role in a plot to launch a campaign of terrorist attacks in Canada.
In imposing the sentence, Justice Fletcher Dawson granted him a time served credit of eight years and nine months. The 26-year-old Toronto man, a married father of two young children, won’t be eligible to seek parole for 3 1/2 years.
Ahmad declined to say anything before being sentenced in a Brampton courtroom.
Under his direction, plans were made to attack nuclear stations and storm Parliament, taking politicians hostage until Canada gave into his demands to pull troops from Afghanistan.
Although clearly the original leader and organizer, Ahmad wasn’t actively involved in the bomb plot schemes of fellow convicted terrorist Zakaria Amara by the time they and others were arrested on June 2, 2006.
Ahmad and Amara split and formed their own groups in April 2006. Amara is currently serving a life sentence, which is under appeal.
On May 3, 2010, 13 days into trial, Ahmad pleaded guilty to three terrorist-related crimes.
On Monday, Dawson sentenced him consecutively to five years for participating in a terrorist group and nine years for knowingly instructing individuals to carry out activities for the benefit, at the direction of or in association with a terrorist group.
He was also sentenced to two years consecutive for importing firearms for the benefit of a terrorist group.
“As a leader and the person who initiated all of the activities that have given rise to these other (Toronto 18) convictions, it is fitting that Fahim Ahmad receive a sentence that reflects his leadership role,” Dawson said.
“While the bomb plot posed a more immediate and grave threat than did the activities of Ahmad’s group, that is offset considerably by his leadership role.”
Dawson recognized Ahmad was 21 when he organized terrorist camps and recruited others for plans of mass murder.
“Perhaps his emergence from youth to adulthood has caused his fervor to soften,” Dawson said. “One thing is clear: I am not dealing with someone who remains openly defiant and who blatantly continues to advocate the rightfulness of his past ideas and actions. Only time will tell whether Ahmad has truly renounced his former views.”
In sentencing him, Dawson took into account that Ahmad has now denounced his hatred of non-Muslims and ideological views of justifying terrorist acts on a religious and political basis.
Dawson also noted how Ahmad’s actions cause great harm to the Muslim community. He said the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and law abiding people, who participate and contribute substantially to Canada’s success.
Dawson accepted the fact that Ahmad was prone to grandiosity and exaggeration and might never have actually been able to secure weapons needed to carry out his plans.
“History has shown that amateur terrorists have often succeeded in causing great harm and certainly put many at risk of great harm,” he said. “Ahmad’s activities created a grave risk and substantially heightened the likelihood that devastating acts of terrorisms would be carried out in Canada.
“…he must bear considerable responsibility for embroiling other young men in his hateful pursuits. He is substantially responsible for virtually ruining the lives of a number of other young men, who became involved in terrorist activities and now stand convicted of terrorism offences…”
Dawson said there was no doubt that while Ahmad ultimately proved to be ineffectual in achieving his goals, he was quite successful at motivating others to pursue terrorist activities. Amara considered him the leader of their group and the plan to build and detonate bombs was part of the overall discussion that took place while Ahmad was still the leader before he and Amara split with their own followers.
“…Ahmad must bear some responsibility for the bomb plot that continued to blossom under Amara’s direction after the group split…,” Dawson said.
On June 2, 2006, Ahmad and his co-accused were arrested after a lengthy investigation by Canada’s spy agency and the RCMP, which included wiretapped intercepts, car probes and the infiltration of a police informant turned agent.