Accused ‘Toronto 18’ leader pleads guilty mid-trial

[JURIST] The accused leader of the Toronto 18, Fahim Ahmad, unexpectedly switched his plea to guilty on Monday in the midst of his Canadian trial on terrorism charges. Ahmad is on trial with Steven Chand and Asad Ansari as the last members to be prosecuted for their involvement in the Toronto 18, a group that allegedly conducted terrorist trainings camps and was planning a number of terrorist attacks with the objective of forcing Canada to withdraw its military troops from Afghanistan. The judge advised the jury that Ahmad’s guilty plea is not be taken into consideration in deliberations over Chand and Ansari. This trial represents the first terrorism case in Canada to be tried by a jury.

In February, Toronto 18 member Shareef Abdelhaleem was convicted after a Canadian judge found that virtually no evidence existed to support his claims of entrapment. In January, Amin Mohamed Durrani was released after pleading guilty to participating in and assisting a terrorist group. Also in January, a Canadian court sentenced  two members of the group, Zakaria Amara and Saad Gaya, to life and 12 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in the plot. Abdelhaleem was the first adult to be tried among the “Toronto 18” originally arrested and charged under Section 83 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, Canada’s post-9/11 legislation.

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