RSS Feed

Toronto 18 mastermind Zakaria Amara is 1st to lose citizenship under Bill C-24

The federal government has revoked the citizenship of an extremist who is thought to have been the mastermind of a plot to bomb downtown Toronto in an effort to terrorize Canadians and cripple the economy.

A member of the so-called Toronto 18, Zakaria Amara was sentenced in 2010 to life in prison with no chance of parole until 2016 after admitting his role in the plan aimed in part at forcing Canadian soldiers to leave Afghanistan.

Following a National Post report published Saturday saying Amara’s citizenship had been pulled, Defence Minister Jason Kenney sent a tweet describing him as a man who hated Canada so much that he “forfeited his own citizenship” by plotting to murder hundreds of Canadians.

Amara is the first person to be stripped of citizenship under Bill C-24, dubbed the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act, passed last May.

According to the Post, he was notified of the decision on Friday in a letter sent to the Quebec penitentiary where is he serving a life sentence. He still holds citizenship in Jordan, where he was born.

Bill C-24 allows the government to revoke someone’s citizenship for serious acts against Canada, providing that person is a dual national and is convicted of offences related to spying, treason or terrorism.

Police thwarted the Toronto 18 plot when they arrested Amara and 17 other people in the summer of 2006.

In an agreed statement of facts, Crown lawyer Ione Jaffe told court that Amara planned to rent U-Haul trucks, pack them with explosives and detonate them via remote control in the Toronto area.

The Mississauga, Ont., man said the attack, which he planned over three consecutive days to maximize the panic, also involved bombing RCMP headquarters, nuclear-power plants and attacking Parliament.

The group also considered attacking the Sears Tower in Chicago or UN headquarters in New York three months after the proposed “Battle of Toronto,” court heard.

“This man hated Canada so much, he planned on murdering hundreds of Canadians,” Kenney tweeted on Saturday. “He forfeited his own citizenship.”

Amara, who was married with one child at the time, planned to flee to Pakistan around the time of the blast and then move onto Afghanistan.

Admitted to organizing training camp

He also admitted to a leadership role in organizing a winter camp north of Toronto in December 2005 in which “recruits” were given basic combat training along with indoctrination in the extremist jihadi cause.

On several calls with his confidantes, Amara acknowledged that he risked a lengthy jail term but said he “won’t feel sorry” if arrested as long as he had “tried his best.”

Through an undercover police agent, Amara attempted to buy large quantities of ammonium nitrate — commonly used in fertilizer — and other chemicals to build the bombs, court heard.

Police pounced on June 2, 2006, when an undercover agent delivered 120, 25-kilogram bags labelled ammonium nitrate but containing a harmless substance to a warehouse in Newmarket, Ont., rented by the plotters.

RCMP explosives experts determined a one-tonne truck bomb would have caused “catastrophic” damage to a high-rise building 30 metres away and death and injury to anyone nearby.

Amara pleaded guilty to two counts — knowingly participating in a terrorist group, and intending to cause an explosion that could kill people or damage property for the benefit of a terrorist group.

CBC | Toronto News