Ottawa man Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh enters surprise guilty plea on terror charge

In a surprise move, an Ottawa man pleaded guilty Wednesday to possessing explosives with an intent to do harm as part of a homegrown terrorist conspiracy.

OTTAWA — In a surprise move, an Ottawa man pleaded guilty Wednesday to possessing explosives with an intent to do harm as part of a homegrown terrorist conspiracy.

The plea means Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 34, will not face trial in February for his role in the plan to wage violent jihad in Canada.

Alizadeh, a custodian and part-time student, was arrested in August 2010 along with two other men.

Police seized terrorist literature, videos and manuals along with dozens of electronic circuit boards — devices designed to detonate homemade bombs remotely.

Alizadeh was sentenced to 24 years in prison after entering his plea in Ontario Superior Court, part of a pre-arranged plea deal.

Alizadeh told Justice Colin McKinnon that his time in custody to date had opened his eyes to the reality of his actions. He said he did not always subscribe to such an “evil way of thinking” and wanted to own up to his mistakes.

Alizadeh will be burdened with an utterly deplorable stigma, McKinnon noted.

“You are now a convicted terrorist,” he said. “You have brought untold shame upon your family, your community and peace-loving Muslims throughout this country.

“Your actions were selfish in the extreme, deserving of the derision and contempt that you must endure, now and in the future.”

After accounting for time served — credited as six years — Alizadeh faces a maximum of 18 more years behind bars, and he has agreed not to apply for parole for at least nine years.

Two other terrorism-related charges against Alizadeh have been withdrawn.

Alizadeh, who obtained Canadian citizenship in 2007, was born in Iran, of Kurdish descent. He studied electrical engineering technology at Winnipeg’s Red River College before moving to Ottawa.

In an agreed statement of facts, Alizadeh acknowledged travelling to Iran in March 2009 and sneaking across the border into Afghanistan, where he attended a terrorist training camp run by Islamic militants for about two months.

He was trained in the use of firearms, including AK-47s and handguns. He was taught how to assemble remote-controlled improvised explosive devices by an expert bomb-maker known as Westa Omar, who was personally involved in preparation of such devices for use against coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Upon returning to Canada in July 2009, Alizadeh smuggled in 56 customized circuit boards intended to build explosive triggering devices set off by a signal from a cell phone or radio transmitter. He also had a transmitter, tone dialer and other electronic components, along with violent jihadist propaganda videos he intended to upload to YouTube.

Alizadeh used extreme caution in communicating with his foreign terrorist contacts, employing the alias Abdulrahim Kurdi, a library email account in a false name and a pay-as-you-go phone.

Alizadeh set about forming a terrorist cell in Ottawa, using propaganda and persuasion in an effort to radicalize hospital technician Misbahuddin Ahmed, who ultimately agreed to join the group.

Ahmed was convicted in July of two terrorism charges related to the conspiracy. He awaits sentencing.

In February 2010 police covertly searched Alizadeh’s home. In a grocery bag in his closet, they discovered the circuit boards and other electronic components. They also found videos on how to make various explosive substances and a terrorist training manual with instructions on building a cell-phone detonator, conducting ambushes, kidnapping Americans and using poisonous gases.

In addition, there were dozens of propaganda videos featuring speeches by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, beheadings, bombings and calls to wage war on infidels.

Alizadeh inquired with his overseas contacts about sending Ahmed for explosives training so he could then return and plot an attack in Canada.

On two occasions, Alizadeh sent a total of $3,400 to his brother in Iran to purchase weapons.

On July 20, 2010, Alizadeh and Ahmed met with Khurram Syed Sher in an attempt to recruit him to their cause. Alizadeh said it was their duty to assist the cause of violent jihad by raising money and sending it overseas, taking paramilitary training, learning how to make explosives, conducting reconnaissance in Canada on possible targets and recruiting others.

Sher, a doctor who once sang on the Canadian Idol TV show, was acquitted last month of conspiring to facilitate terrorism.

During the 2010 meeting, secretly recorded by police, Alizadeh said he would have no trouble arranging terrorist training for members of the group.

“So you’re gonna, if Allah wills, start a small thing and, if Allah wills, it will end up to be a big thing if Allah wills in North America,” Alizadeh said.

“And our dreams will come true, if Allah wills, that we will break their back in their own country.”

Alizadeh’s descent into Islamic radicalization was a “long and tragic one,” his lawyer, Leo Russomanno, told McKinnon on Wednesday.

“He’s had a lot of time to contemplate his life experiences and what brought him to this very dark point in his life. He’s accepted responsibility.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

Students walk into Hunting Hills High School, which is one of the Red Deer Public Schools with solar panels on its roof. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school was placed in lockdown following potential threat

Hunting Hills High School was placed in a lockdown Friday after Red… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some details of the provincial government’s 2021-22 budget need to be ‘sorted out’ when it comes to the hospital expansion funding. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More detail needed regarding hospital funding, says Red Deer mayor

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some information is unclear regarding the… Continue reading

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

New York Red Bulls midfielder Jared Stroud, right, vies for the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio during an MLS soccer match in Harrison, NJ., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. Entering his ninth season with Toronto FC, Jonathan Osorio said his off-season regimen was no different than in the past. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) makes the save on Toronto Maple Leafs' Zach Hyman (11) as Tyson Barrie (22) defends during third period NHL action in Edmonton, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. Toronto continues to lead the North Division standings, but hard-charging Edmonton is now just four points back on the all-Canadian circuit heading into a three-game series between the teams in Alberta's capital beginning Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Angela James stands on centre ice in front of the Toronto Maple Leafs team after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame before Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday November 6, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse talks to center Aron Baynes (46) and guard Norman Powell (24) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris O'Meara
Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Team Ontario skip Rachel Homan, centre, makes a shot against Team Wild Card 1 as second Sarah Wilkes, left, and lead Joanne Courtney sweep at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary, Alta., Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. Ontario's Rachel Homan kicked off play in the championship pool Friday with a 7-6 victory over Chelsea Carey of Team Wild Card One at the Canadian women's curling playdowns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

Homan and Einarson improve to 8-1 at Canadian women’s curling championship

Most Read