Muslim Hate in Canada

Terrorism charges pending in Edmonton attacks

Suspect had been investigated in 2015 but wasn't deemed a threat, RCMP says

CBC News Posted: Oct 01, 2017

Terrorism-related charges are pending against a man accused of stabbing a police officer and deliberately plowing a cube van into pedestrians in Edmonton on Saturday night, the RCMP says.

The suspect was known to both RCMP and police, RCMP K Division Assistant Commissioner Marlin Degrand told a news conference at Edmonton RCMP headquarters on Sunday afternoon. The man is a Somali refugee.

In 2015, after a complaint was made to the Edmonton Police Service that the man was displaying signs of extremism, members of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) launched an investigation, Degrand said.

The suspect was interviewed by members of INSET, but there was "insufficient evidence" to make an arrest and the suspect was deemed "not a threat," Degrand said.

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif is the man accused in the attacks, multiple sources have told CBC News.

Degrand said the suspect has yet to be charged but is under arrest for offences including participation in a terrorist attack, commission of an offence for a terrorist group, five counts of attempted murder, dangerous driving, criminal flight causing bodily harm, and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

The 30-year-old suspect in the attacks was apprehended following a high-speed chase just before midnight through streets filled with bar patrons and Edmonton Eskimos football fans. Police have said they believe the man acted alone.

The chase came to an end after the white U-Haul van he was driving struck four pedestrians and flipped on its side.

'Broken arms to brain bleeds'

The injured police officer was taken to hospital and treated for non life-threatening injuries. Four pedestrians were injured, with injuries that ranged from "broken arms to brain bleeds," police Chief Rod Knecht said during Sunday's police news conference.

One person who was listed in critical condition has been upgraded to stable. Two others have been released from hospital. The fourth victim suffered a fractured skull but has regained consciousness, said Knecht.

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, was the officer injured in the violent altercation. He has been with EPS for 11 years and was conducting traffic duties outside the Edmonton Eskimos game Saturday night. He has since been released from hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Chernyk suffered stab wounds to his face and hands during the knife attack, said Knecht.

He said the details of Saturday's attack on the officer are "sobering."

"He was in a struggle for his life," Knecht said, "holding onto his gun with one hand and fending off the knife with the other."

EPS Sgt. Mike Elliott, vice-president of the Alberta Federation of Police Associations, said even though Chernyk is a "switched-on guy," he was still surprised at his ability to fight off the suspect.

"I wasn't sure he'd even be in condition to fend anyone off after being hit like he was," Elliott said. "Just to see him battle like he did, it's amazing, and I'm proud of him to see how he fended off that suspect."

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said in a separate news conference on Sunday in Regina that INSET was working closely with the Edmonton Police Service on the investigation.

Officer was working alone

The officer was working alone at the time of the attack, said EPS Sgt. Michael Elliott, vice-president of the Alberta Federation of Police Associations and director of the Edmonton Police Association.

Normally officers work exclusively with partners, but exceptions are made when members are hired as security or traffic control officers for special events.

"A lot of questions have come up," said Elliott. "People ask, why was this member alone?

"In this unfortunate incident, he was working a special duty event so he was actually hired to work the football game. But on the street, we have criteria that when you're working, specifically at night, you're always partnered up. You always have someone."

Elliott said the incident has left Edmonton's law enforcement community rattled, and he's encouraging officers who may be struggling to seek help.

"We just want to make sure that our members are well taken care of, not just physically but mentally as well," he said. "As you can imagine, it's a trying time for every member because questions get raised like, 'Why did this happen?' "

•    Edmonton police investigate 'acts of terrorism' after officer stabbed, pedestrians run down

Goodale said the national terrorism threat level for Canada remains at "medium" and by all indications, public safety has been restored.

Canada will not be intimidated by terrorist violence, he said.

"We will not be intimidated by a brutal act of hate," said Goodale. "Together, we condemn terrorist violence, today and every day, and we will never allow it to contort the way that we want to live our lives."

The series of violent events was likely the work of a "lone wolf," said the city's mayor, Don Iveson, who called for vigilance and community solidarity after the chaotic night.

'A lone wolf attack'

"I wish to urge calm," Iveson told a news conference Sunday. "To the best of our knowledge this was a lone wolf attack.

"Terrorism is about creating panic and sowing divide and disrupting people's lives, so we can succumb to that or we can rise above it."

Iveson described Saturday's events as "appalling" and commended first responders for their bravery in the "face of chaos."

He urged Edmontonians to remain calm and united as the investigation continues. But Iveson stressed he's confident that police are "fully in command" of the situation.

"It is vital now that we not succumb to hatred, that we not be intimidated by violence, and that we respond with love and strength," Iveson said. "We will not be divided."

'Hatred has no place in Alberta'

In a written statement, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley described Saturday's events as "horrific."

"It's left us shocked at the indiscriminate cruelty and angry that someone might target their hatred at places where we gather with our families and friends," Notley said in the emailed statement.

"Hatred has no place in Alberta. It's not who we are. We are in this together and together we are stronger than any form of hate."

Notley said her thoughts remain with the victims, their families and the first responders who showed "incredible bravery."

"Our first responders are incredible people. Thank you to each and every one of our police officers, paramedics and firefighters who put their lives on the line to keep us safe," she said.

"Thank you, also, to the women and men who dropped everything to help their fellow Albertans. Your bravery in moments of fear and your compassion in moments of chaos are what's very best about us."

Members of Edmonton's Muslim community strongly condemned the attacks and called for solidarity within the community.

Edmonton human rights activist Ahmed Abdikadir said he felt "anger and frustration" at news the violence may have been the work of a terrorist.

•    Questions surround Edmonton 'acts of terrorism,' security expert says

"I'm frustrated that something like this could happen here in Edmonton, right here in my backyard," said Abdikadir, chairperson of the steering committee of the Safety Summit, a grassroots organization that addresses crime and racism.

"I want to compliment the heroic actions of EPS. If they were not there, the law enforcement, it would have been a completely different tragic outcome.

"To the Edmonton community at large, I would like to tell them that we stand together and unite against hate. And let's solve this problem collectively, rather than pointing fingers at each other."

Trudeau outraged by tragedy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement Sunday, saying he was deeply concerned by Saturday's events.

"The Government of Canada and Canadians stand with the people of Edmonton after the terrorist attack on Saturday," he said. "I am deeply concerned and outraged by this tragedy."

"We cannot — and will not — let violent extremism take root in our communities. We know that Canada's strength comes from our diversity, and we will not be cowed by those who seek to divide us or promote fear," Trudeau said.

In a statement from the White House, the Office of the Press Secretary condemned the "cowardly" attacks on a police officer and pedestrians.

"Law enforcement authorities from the United States are in touch with their Canadian counterparts to offer assistance with the ongoing investigation," the statement said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, as we hope for their speedy and complete recovery."

Edmonton police released grainy footage of a car ramming a crowd control barricade with a uniformed officer standing beside it. The footage shows the officer being tossed about five metres into the air as the car slams into the front of a parked police cruiser.

The video shows two people walking by with their dogs rushing towards the officer on the ground. But they run off when the driver gets out of the car and appears to start stabbing the officer.

The police officer appears to wrestle with the driver on the ground and, at one point, it appears the officer is on top of the driver. Footage shows them both getting to their feet and the driver runs across the street while the officer slowly follows him into traffic.

Police launched a manhunt for the suspect. Knecht said an Islamic State flag was found in the front seat of the car and was seized as evidence.

A few hours later, while fans filed out of the football game and were re-routed around the crime scene, a U-Haul cube van was stopped at a checkstop north of downtown.

Knecht said the name on the identification was close to that of the registered owner of the white Malibu.

Knecht said that when confronted, the U-Haul driver sped off toward downtown with police cars in pursuit. The van intentionally swerved at pedestrians in crosswalks, Knecht said.

The name of the suspect was not released. Knecht said he was known to police, but there was no warning for the attack.

Witness Matthew Ireland, who had been at the football game and had heard that a police officer had been stabbed near Commonwealth Stadium, was waiting in line to get in to The Pint, just north of Jasper Avenue on 109th Street.

"We thought maybe it was just oh, a guy running from the cops, just a police chase as usual," Ireland said. "And the next thing you know we start to see him swerve in towards the back alley there.

"I could just see the look of panic on the guy's face. Like he knew he was in trouble, he knew he was done, he was going to get caught pretty soon. So he just started swerving and trying to hit people," he said.

"And he hit two individuals that were just standing in the back alley there. And I could see a pair of glasses or a cellphone go flying down the alley."

Police cars followed the van and a couple of officers stopped to seal off the area, Ireland said. Bouncers from the bar and bystanders rushed to help the two people who had been hit by the van.

"For those individuals, I'm kind of heartbroken, to say the least," he said. "They're just out having a fun time, and wrong place, wrong time, I guess you could say."

Toronto terror plot: Suspects were religious men, according to colleagues, neighbours

By: Jennifer Pagliaro and Allan Woods Staff Reporters
Published on Mon Apr 22 2013
Toronto Star

Accused terror plotter Raed Jaser left a Qur’an unannounced for his Toronto neighbour. Chiheb Esseghaier’s Quebec colleagues say his beliefs became increasingly hardline.

Raed Jaser’s neighbour remembers the Qur’an.

Small with a green cover, it was left in his mailbox one day last fall, unannounced and unexplained, a few months after he and his family moved to Cherokee Blvd., near Finch Ave. and Hwy. 404.

The man, who asked not to be identified to protect his family, said he put the Qur’an back on his neighbour’s car.

He never learned his neighbour’s name until more than a dozen RCMP officers arrived unannounced at his home on Monday around 3 p.m. — the same time as a scheduled news conference.

The Mounties showed him a photo of the man next door, the same man whose Qur’an he had returned.

That man, now believed to be Jaser, 35, of Toronto, is suspected, along with Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, of hatching a terror plot to derail a VIA Rail train. Their arrests Monday by the RCMP put an end to the alleged scheme.

“I was OK, but now it’s scary because I saw the news,” the neighbour said over the phone while officers questioned his family in his home about anything they’d noticed.

He recalled how several months after the appearance of the Qur’an a woman believed to be living next door with his neighbour came to the door with books and a fruit basket for his son, who had been sick.

On Monday, police said neither Jaser nor Esseghaier is a Canadian citizen, but they would not elaborate on the men’s nationality.

According to sources, however, Jaser is Palestinian and immigrated here from the United Arab Emirates, and Esseghaier was a Tunisian national who appears to have been living in Quebec for the past four years.
Esseghaier’s devout adherence to Islam reportedly set apart him from colleagues at a high-tech research facility.

He arrived in Sherbrooke, Que. from Tunis in late 2008 and rented a small apartment next to a laundromat for about six months. He then moved to Montreal, a city he often visited while studying at the Université de Sherbrooke, according to a former landlord.

In 2010, Esseghaier began working toward his doctorate at one of the province’s jewels of advanced research, the National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS), located just south of Montreal.

A spokesperson for the Institute said authorities did not forewarn them of his arrest, but confirmed that Esseghaier was indeed the student picked up by the RCMP’s anti-terror squad.

A former colleague at the Institute said she was stunned when she got a text message Monday afternoon informing her of the terror bust.
“I’m in shock, seriously. It’s just a big surprise,” said the woman, who no longer works at INRS.

The colleague, who asked that her name not be published, said Esseghaier was one of many international students who study at the Institute. She also remembered him making use of its prayer room.

“He was, from what I understand, very strict in following his beliefs,” the woman said.

Esseghaier’s profile on the business networking site LinkedIn makes no secret of his devotion to Islam. In place of a personal photo, there is a white-on-black image of Arabic script proclaiming: “There is no God but Allah.”

One of Esseghaier’s classmates told Radio-Canada that he had increasingly been sharing his “troubling” hardline religious views with friends. He said he considered the Tunisian national to be “dangerous.”

He spoke last year at conferences in Cancun and Montreal on his research in the field of biosensors had him speaking at conferences last year. As well, he spoke at the TechConnect World Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. last June, just two months before police said he came onto their radar as a suspected terrorism plotter.

Police did not say if his entry into the United States — and the extra screening he would have been subjected to — caught the attention of anti-terrorism authorities on either side of the border. They also said little about how Esseghaier and Jaser allegedly came to be connected.

An imam at the Islamic Society of Willowdale in Scarborough said Jaser regularly attended the mosque on Victoria Park. Ave. for over two years.
“He is a quiet person who always greeted everyone and was pleasant when he was here,” the imam said, adding members were shocked by news of the alleged terror plot. “He didn’t show any signs leading up to this that he was anything like this.”

There was a large RCMP presence Monday at an industrial plaza in North York. According to an automatic email signature, an “R. Jaser” is a customer service representative at a moving company located in the plaza.


Muslim 'parallel society' within Canada a threat: Report

AFP November 15, 2010

OTTAWA - Islamists aim to build a "parallel society" in Canada that risks undermining its democracy and multiculturalism and becoming a "catalyst for violence," warned a national security report published Monday.

The newly declassified document obtained by the National Post says Islamic hardliners are calling on Muslims living in Western countries to segregate themselves and adhere only to Shariah law.

"Even if the use of violence is not outwardly expressed, the creation of isolated communities can spawn groups that are exclusivist and potentially open to messages in which violence is advocated," warns the report posted on the newspaper's website.

"At a minimum, the existence of such mini-societies undermines the resilience and the fostering of a cohesive Canadian nation."

The report was written by the Integrated Threat Assessment Centre which collates threat information from Canada's spy service, federal police, military, foreign affairs department and other agencies.

According to the National Post, it was circulated internally after a Hizb-ut-Tahrir conference in Toronto last year on establishing an Islamic caliphate. "By definition, their world views clash with secular ones. A competition for the hearts and minds of the diaspora Muslims has hence begun," the report concludes.

It notes that Islamist hardliners while promoting the synchronization of state laws with religious beliefs "are careful to couch their policies in terms of Western freedoms."

They see the movement as "the peaceful advocacy of minority rights," it said.

But the report also notes the Dutch Intelligence Service has labeled the movement as "sinister" and one which "could gradually harm social cohesion and solidarity and could harm certain fundamental human rights."

As well, it cites examples in Denmark in which Muslims bypassed the court system to administer their own form of justice, in one case beating a man accused of assaulting a young boy.


A portrait of terrorist suspects
Buffalo News Staff Reporters

TORONTO - They are being called "homegrown terrorists."

But they are not believed to be al-Qaida. More likely, they are a group inspired by the terror organization but with no formal links, according to law enforcement.

They are young men, all residents of Canada. Most of them citizens.

Some are so young the Canadian government won't release their names because they're minors. The oldest is 43.

Many came to Canada with their families, many when they were children. They came from Afghanistan, Egypt and Somalia. At least one is from the Caribbean.

Many of them live in the well-to-do suburbs of Toronto.

They are all Muslim, a couple of them converts from other religions. At least four worshipped at a tiny prayer room in a strip mall.

But what they all had in common, allegedly, was outrage over the West's treatment of Muslims abroad and particularly, the U.S invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

And they met, according to the Toronto Star, about two years ago through Internet chat sites where they spouted their anger and allegedly began to plot attacks.

At least some of them are believed to have traveled to a terrorist training camp in northern Ontario modeled after al-Qaida camps that spawned many of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers, according to the Star.

An imam who says he knows nine of the 17 suspects, however, says he believes that the authorities are mistaken about the young men.

"I have doubts that any of these guys did anything wrong," said Aly Hindy, the imam of Salaheddin Islamic Centre in the Scarborough section of Toronto, told The Buffalo News. "I think they're innocent. If some of them are guilty, I don't think it's terrorism. It may be criminal, but it's not terrorism."

Suspects known to imam

Hindy said at least four suspects attend his mosque: Fahim Ahmad, Jahmaal James, Steven Chand and an underage Sri Lankan who converted from Hindu to Muslim.

Hindy said of all the suspects, Ahmad, 21, may be guilty - but only of participating in gun smuggling.

"He rented a car for two guys to go the U.S. and to go get guns and sell it into the black market," Hindy said.

James, Hindy said, is of African descent and was a convert to Islam. He had come to Hindy, known as a matchmaker in his community, to find him a wife.

"I said go to Pakistan," Hindy said.

James, 23, traveled to Pakistan four months ago, married a woman there, but apparently couldn't get her a visa to come back to Canada with him.

Chand, 25, had come to Hindy to ask for financial help at one point, Hindy said. The Star reported that he had been unemployed for some time but recently found work at a Middle Eastern fast food stand.

Four other suspects regularly prayed at a tiny prayer room in a strip mall in Mississauga, Ont.

Among them was Shareef Abdelheen, 30, a computer programmer. There was also Qayyum Abdul Jamal, 43, whom Hindy said was very vocal about his distaste for the Iraq War.

"When he sees a Muslim being killed, he can't keep quiet," Hindy said.

The Star also reported that Jamal was a widower with four sons and that he drives a school bus.

Another was Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21, the son of a physician who is in medical school at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. Hindy said he recently officiated at Ghany's wedding to a 17-year-old.

He also said he knew Zakaria Amara, who like, Jamal, wasn't shy about vocalizing his hate for the Iraq War.

"They're all from different areas, different social levels in society, education," Hindy said. "The whole thing doesn't make sense. Some of them are highly educated. You doubt that it's terrorism. This has nothing to do with violent acts. It should be handled as a criminal case."

Security experts say that, just because they're not taking direct orders from Osama bin Laden, that doesn't mean they're to be taken less seriously.

Leaderless cells are the MO of terror today, experts say.

The train bombings of late in Madrid and London are examples of how terror cells can operate, and be successful in their deadly plans, without any direct contact with a leader.

"There aren't commands coming down from a central authority," said Mike German, a former FBI agent who specialized in counterterrorism and is a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank

"These groups, they are following a methodology," German told The News. "They're leaderless. There are actual manuals out there on how to be a lone-wolf terrorist."

German also cautioned against dismissing the Toronto suspects as simple wanna-bes.

"There's a tendency when they're caught before they're able to do anything, for them to be seen as bumbling idiots," German said. "Like Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. You tend to think he's a clown. But this guy, in a post-9/11 environment, was able to get a bomb on a plane. Only intervention from passengers stopped him . . . It's really just a matter of luck whether one is successful or not. Thankfully in this case, the good guys were able to stop it."

Canadian targets alleged

Canadian authorities say the 17 suspects tried to obtain 3 tons of ammonium nitrate and were "planning to commit a series of terrorist attacks against solely Canadian targets in southern Ontario," Mike McDonnell, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said in a statement.

According to the Star, the RCMP participated in a sting and provided the explosives to the cell before arresting the members.

The cell wanted to blow up the offices of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, near the CN Tower in downtown Toronto, and the Parliament buildings, according to the Star.

The Los Angeles Times reported that members of the group also had discussed the possibility of hitting targets in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.

But White House officials said there was no known threat to the United States.

"We certainly don't believe that there's any link to the United States," said Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation.

However, authorities began to grow more suspicious of the alleged Toronto cell after two U.S. citizens from Georgia traveled to Canada last spring to meet with them to discuss attacks on oil refineries and military bases.

One of them, Syed Haris Ahmed, was a Georgia Tech student who tried to go to Pakistan to train at a terrorist camp. A second man, Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, was arrested later in Bangladesh.

More arrests expected

A government official close to the investigation told the Associated Press that more warrants were pending and more arrests were expected, possibly this week. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the case is open.

The terror sweep in Toronto has left many unsettled, particularly in the Middle Eastern and Muslim communities that make up this diverse, multicultural city.

In Rexdale, a neighborhood made up of Indian, Pakistani and Indo-Caribbean communities where the pungent smell of spices of oils fill the air, locals were shakened and saddened by a vandalism attack on a local Islamic center following the arrests.

Overnight, about 30 windows were smashed at the sprawling International Muslim Organization of Toronto. Several car windshield were also broken. "It's sick," Ameer Ali, secretary of the center, told The News. "Whoever did this destroyed a place of worship. It hurts us because we try our best to serve this country as Canadians. We open the doors to show people that Islam is a religion of peace."

In downtown Toronto around the CN Tower Sunday evening, security didn't seem any tighter than usual.

Azucena Rocha, 24, an immigrant from Mexico who works feet away from the CN Tower in a downtown coffee shop, said the arrests left her concerned.

"I feel it was disturbing," she said as she stacked chairs in the patio. "It's a shock for a lot of Canadians. You expect these things to happen in the States, not Canada. I'm not saying the U.S. is a bad country. They're just usually the targets.

David DiLella, who was out on an evening stroll by the tower with his girlfriend, Erin Dimeno, described the weekend's events as "a wake-up call" for Canda.

He also said he believed peaceful Muslims aren't doing enough to quell the violence within their ranks.


School Ties Link Alleged Plotters

Arrested Canadians Had Bonded at Clubs and on Soccer Fields

By Doug Struck
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, June 11, 2006; Page A16

TORONTO -- They were school pals. One is 15. Most are just out of high school, some still in. The 17 boys and men whom Canadian police are calling "homegrown terrorists" forged their bonds in student clubs and on school soccer fields, chatted on the Internet, and urged each other to be heroes for their faith.

The arrests last weekend left many Canadians pondering how a country proud of its diverse culture and political moderation could spawn such an apparent interest in violence. Especially by people so young.

What started as boasts and youthful rhetoric crystallized into action, the government says. The youths ordered $4,000 worth of ingredients for a bomb, built a detonator and cased out targets for a two-pronged attack that would take hostages on Parliament Hill in Ottawa while setting off bombs in Toronto, prosecutors contend.

The plans allegedly ranged from the fanciful -- steering remote-controlled toys loaded with explosives into police stations -- to the meticulous. The suspects calculated the exact solutions of nitric acid and grams of mercury they would need to detonate the bombs, according to a summary of the prosecutors' allegations reviewed by The Washington Post.

The school ties have some people here asking if Canada's attempt to accommodate all faiths and backgrounds -- many Canadian schools offer rooms for Friday prayers and foster Muslim student clubs -- is encouraging religious divisions. Some of the clubs "are very conservative, very judgmental," said Rizwana Jafri, a Muslim and an administrator at a Toronto-area high school. "Young people are looking for a group to belong to, and religion plays into that. It's almost cult-like."

Suspect Saad Khalid, now 19, is typical of those charged. At Meadowvale Secondary School, he was bright and outgoing in his early high school years, fellow students told reporters last week. His father, a technology professional from Pakistan, lived in Saudi Arabia before coming to Canada 10 years ago. The family recently moved to a brick townhouse in one of the new suburban developments being carved out of farmland in Mississauga, a spreading suburban town west of Toronto.

In 2003, Khalid's mother died in an accident. In the following years, he became more strident about his Muslim faith. He formed athe Religious Awareness Club to preach Islam during lunch hours at the Meadowvale school. He spent time with two older classmates, Fahim Ahmad, now 21, and Zakaria Amara, 20, the government contends.

Meadowvale is a bustling, brick school in the heart of Mississauga. Teenage boys in T-shirts and baggy jeans lolled about the campus last week. A smaller knot of young girls, with Muslim headdress, stood in the shade of a tree. School officials declined to speak to reporters and urged students to do the same.

"Young people who are disenfranchised or ill-fitting in a society look for ways to belong, and sometimes religion plays to that, creating a desire for martyrdom, a desire to be a hero," Jafri said. In her view, the school clubs they form sometimes paint an extreme view of a Muslim world at odds with the secular values the school is trying to teach.

Khalid and his pals spent time in a chat room on the Internet and called themselves the "Meadowvale Brothers." According to the Globe and Mail newspaper, which reported on the electronic chat diary before it was removed from the Web, the young men's talk dealt with movies and final exams. But Zakaria Amara kept returning to the issue of sacrifice for Islam.

"I love for the sake of Allah, and hate for his sake," he wrote, according to the newspaper.

Khalid and the others began attending a mosque together, teacher Ahmed Amiruddin told CBC Radio last week. "They would enter into the mosque to pray. They would come in military fatigues," he said. "It looked to me like they were watching a lot of these Chechnyan jihad videos online."

Gradually, they gravitated to the Al-Rahman Islamic Center, a storefront mosque in a small strip mall in Mississauga. There they met Qayyam Abdul Jamal, 43, a taciturn Pakistani native with an angry view of the world. He cleaned the rugs and took out the trash at the mosque. For those services, the directors tolerated his vitriolic speeches that portrayed Muslims as oppressed by the West, according to people familiar with the mosque.

"Many people who worked with him thought he was just a loudmouth," said Tariq Shah, a lawyer who represents the mosque. "In retrospect, maybe it was wrong that he wasn't taken more seriously."

Across Toronto at an eastern suburb called Scarborough, a similar process was underway, at the Stephen Leacock Collegiate Institute, a high school. An alumnus of the school, Mohamed Durrani, 19, and another man, Steven Vikash Chand, 25, a former Canadian army reservist, frequented the school grounds to encourage Muslim students to come to the mosques, students and acquaintances told reporters last week. At least two of the juveniles, a 10th-grader and a 12th-grader who are not being identified because of their ages, joined their group.

The group proved inept at keeping its activities secret. The complaints about Jamal, and some of the Internet traffic, drew the attention of investigators as early as two years ago, police officials have confirmed.

Then, in March last year, two Atlanta-area men already under scrutiny in the United States traveled to Toronto to meet Khalid's older acquaintance Fahim Ahmad and a friend from the Scarborough group, Jahmaal James, then 22, according to an FBI affidavit. They allegedly talked about targets for terrorist attacks in North America and the possibility of training in Pakistan.

That summer, Ahmad used his credit card to rent a car for two immigrants from Somalia, Mohammed Dirie, then 22, and Yasin Abdi Mohamed, 22. Those two drove to Columbus, Ohio. When they arrived at the border to return to Canada, guards stopped the car and searched the two. They reported finding a pistol tucked in the back waistband of Mohamed's pants and two more semiautomatic weapons taped to the inner thighs of Dirie.

The arrests and visit by the men from Georgia-- both with ties to Ahmad -- prompted Canadian intelligence and police officials to begin physical and electronic surveillance. Authorities apparently were watching last November, when Zakaria Amara drove to northern Ontario. Prosecutors offer the following account for how the conspiracy unfolded from there:

Amara stopped at the local police and Natural Resources Ministry offices to inquire about nearby forests. He returned to the area the week before Christmas and set up a camp in woodlands near the town of Orillia. Eleven men and boys came with him. They wore camouflage uniforms, fired a 9mm pistol, played paintball, and engaged in training "clearly for terrorist purposes."

They made plans for a second session at the camp. They named their scheme "Operation Badr," after a battle of early Islamic history, and discussed strategies. They would take politicians hostage in the capital, demand the removal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan and the release of Muslim prisoners, and execute the politicians "one by one" if the demands were not met.

Ahmad put a deposit down on another illegal firearms purchase. The suspects scouted out a house where they could retreat after staging an attack. They shoplifted walkie-talkies. Amara plumbed the Internet at public libraries to learn how to assemble a bomb. Durrani enrolled in flight training but eventually backed out, believing he would attract too much attention.

The group had business cards printed up to pose as fictional "student farmers" to raise fewer suspicions as they bought the fertilizer for a bomb.

But as the conspirators talked and made plans, they fractured in disagreement. Zakaria Amara wanted to use truck bombs. Fahim Ahmad favored an attack with guns. Amara thought Ahmad was taking too long.

In the end, they settled on both methods, the government contends. Amara and the Mississauga group would bomb a site in Toronto -- the final list included a downtown Toronto skyscraper containing the offices of Canada's spy agency, the Toronto Stock Exchange and a military establishment. At the same time, Ahmad, who had moved to Scarborough with the group there, was to storm the Parliament or some other public place.

By last month, Amara had concluded that they needed three tons of ammonium nitrate -- the group wanted to make a bomb bigger than the two-ton explosive that Timothy McVeigh used to shatter the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people.

When the youths ordered the fertilizer, agents intercepted the shipment and substituted an inert powder. Police watched as Khalid and one of the youths worked at a rented warehouse June 2 to prepare to receive the shipment. The two lined cardboard boxes with plastic to store the material. When Amara paid $4,000 to an undercover officer for the fake fertilizer, the police descended. Khalid and the juvenile were arrested at the warehouse. Squads of officers positioned around Toronto rounded up the others through the evening.

Khalid is now at Ontario's Maplehurst Correctional Center in solitary confinement. His cell has a metal bed, two blankets, and a light bulb that stays on all night. He met with his lawyer Thursday, but the two were separated by a glass shield and were able to talk only on a telephone. Khalid held it awkwardly, with his wrists still handcuffed together, said the lawyer, Arif Raza.

"Obviously, he's very down," Raza said. "Very depressed."

Researcher Natalia Alexandrova contributed to this report.