Terror trial commences in Ottawa

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Terror trial commences in Ottawa

Post  Jennie on Tue Jun 24, 2008 3:01 pm

Terror trial commences in Ottawa

Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2008
OTTAWA -- The trial of Momin Khawaja got underway Monday amid unprecedented security and with an extraordinarily detailed opening statement by Crown prosecutor David McKercher, who laid out the terror plans the former software developer is accused of plotting.

His remarks included allegations the 29-year-old was directly involved in a terrorist group, had travelled to an al-Qaeda training camp and considered using his federal government job to send detonating devices to Pakistan for terror operations.

Khawaja travelled to Pakistan in early 2002 with the intent of crossing into Afghanistan and taking up arms with the Taliban, court heard Monday.


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Font:****Mohammed (Big Dawg) Babar, believed to be the only former al-Qaeda operative to ever have testified in open court, also said Khawaja associated with an al-Qaeda operative who'd planned a military-style assassination of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

Under the eye of Justice Douglas Rutherford, Khawaja listen to the testimony from a glassed-in prisoners' box, flanked by two RCMP tactical unit officers.

Facing seven terrorism-related charges, Khawaja showed no outward signs of nervousness on the first day of what promises to be a two- to three-month legal slugfest over whether he plotted with a British terror cell to bomb major public sites and utilities in and around London in the spring of 2004.

Babar, 33, is awaiting sentencing in a New York federal court after pleading guilty in 2004 of providing support to al-Qaeda and to the London bomb plotters -- five Britons were convicted in the case and sentenced to life in prison, last year. He is hoping to lighten his prison sentence in return for testifying here about his role in setting up a terrorist training camp in Pakistan and to helping orchestrate the bombing campaign in and around the British capital.

For almost three hours, Babar recounted bits and pieces of his life from the age of two in New York City. He ended up in his native Pakistan as an Islamic jihadist for the group al-Muhajiroun, supplying cash and military equipment to al-Qaeda and other Islamist fighters in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 al-Qaeda attacks against the U.S.

In his opening statement, McKercher said Khawaja was an active participant in a terrorist group planning to detonate a bomb made from 600 kilograms of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

The result of that bomb exploding in crowded place, he said, "would be massive destruction and loss of life."

Khawaja, he said, was directly involved in the terrorist group. McKercher said Khawaja's role was to devise and to build a device capable of triggering the bomb blast remotely by radio frequency.

Targets discussed by the U.K.-based terror group included a London nightclub, a shopping mall in Kent and public utilities in England and in Wales.

On March 29, 2004, Khawaja was arrested at his Foreign Affairs' office. A subsequent search of his home found electronic tools and a device that appeared to be similar to the Hi-Fi Digimonster. Three assault rifles and two wooden crates with 640 rounds of ammunition also were seized.

An RCMP investigation subsequently confirmed the detonating device found in Khawaja's home was in working condition.

For new developments on this story, go to Canada.com.

Ottawa Citizen

(Source: http://www.canada.com/reginaleaderpost/news/story.html?id=95890465-010b-485b-b86f-c98841c9626d)
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