BRAMPTON, Ont. — A member of the so-called Toronto 18 was handed a 14-year sentence Thursday for his role in a terrorist plot to wreak havoc on Canadian targets.
Saad Khalid, 23, pleaded guilty in May to one count of participating in a terror plot with the intention of causing an explosion.
On Thursday, a judge sentenced Khalid to 14 years in prison but also granted him seven years credit for time already served.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Bruce Durno said that while he accepts Khalid is truly remorseful, terrorist offences are “the most vile form” of criminal activity.
Khalid was not the leader of the group, the judge said, but his degree of responsibility “remains fairly high.”
“This was not a spur of the moment offence,” Durno said. “Canadian society relies on balance and not bullets.”
Durno also ruled that parole eligibility would be up to the parole board.
Khalid, dressed in baggy jeans, a blazer and a button-up shirt, leaned forward and appeared to listen intently during the sentencing hearing.
He was arrested in June 2006 while unloading what he and his fellow alleged conspirators believed was at least two tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
Seven of the 18 people arrested that summer them have since had their charges dropped.
The defence had asked the Brampton, Ont., judge that Khalid be sentenced to 10 years and spend two more years behind bars.
The Crown called for an 18- to 20-year sentence for Khalid, with five to five-and-a-half years credit for time already served.
A youth was sentenced in May to two-and-a-half years after a judge found him guilty of helping and taking part in a terrorist organization, but with time already served factored in he was allowed to walk free.
Last month, Khalid told the court that he accepted responsibility for his role in the domestic terror plot to detonate bombs outside the Toronto Stock Exchange and CSIS headquarters, as well as an unnamed Ontario military base in 2006.
I was not motivated by a hate for Canada, Canadians, democracy, or Canadian values of freedom, civil liberties, and women’s rights,” Khalid read from a prepared speech.
I realize that this does not justify my actions in any way. But it is important to have my motive known so people understand that I am not a lunatic who is hell-bent on the destruction of Western Civilization.”
Khalid has been in custody for more than three years.
Defence lawyer Russell Silverstein had urged Durno to take into account what Khalid endured during three “horrific” weeks after his arrest.
Once he was locked up, Khalid was allegedly routinely strip-searched, woken up by guards every 20 minutes as they checked his cell, and kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day, Silverstein had told the court.