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Bomb plot ringleader: “I will change…” (UPDATED)

A tearful Zakaria Amara says he was “lucky” to be arrested


 

"I will change myself"A confessed terrorist who plotted mass murder in the name of Islam says he is a reformed man, was “lucky” to be arrested before his bombs ravaged downtown Toronto, and will accept any sentence he receives for conspiring to kill fellow Canadians.

Speaking in open court for the first time since his 2006 arrest, Zakaria Amara—the admitted ringleader of the “Toronto 18”—told a judge that he now rejects the radical religious ideology that fueled his deadly plot, and is thankful that the RCMP was watching him so closely. “I spent days upon days trying to summon words appropriate, meaningful and deep enough to express my regret and seek forgiveness for my actions,” he told Justice Bruce Durno, who will hand down a sentence on Monday. “At the end, I realized that only promises and actions could suffice. I would like to promise you and my fellow Canadians that I will use my sentence to change myself from a man of destruction to a man of construction. I promise, no matter how long it takes and how much it costs, to produce actions that will hopefully outweigh the actions that I once took towards hurting others.”

His apology—and the tears that followed later in the hearing—was a stark contrast from the old Zakaria Amara: the terrorist front man determined to bomb three targets in southern Ontario, including the Toronto Stock Exchange. Before his arrest, the tough-talking gas station attendant had built and perfected a remote-controlled detonator, ordered three tonnes of explosive fertilizer (from an undercover informant) and boasted that his attack is “gonna be kicking ass like never before.” With police wiretaps running, he told one fellow suspect that he “won’t feel sorry” if the cops throw him in jail before the plan materializes, “as long as I’ve tried my best.”

On Thursday, the 24-year-old said he will try his best to one day “demonstrate my regret in actions rather than words.” His lawyers are requesting a sentence of 18 to 20 years; the Crown wants life, ensuring that if Amara is ever granted parole, he will remain under some sort of supervision until the day he dies. (Under either scenario, Amara will be eligible for a parole hearing in approximately six years, when he turns 30.)

“Your honour, I will embrace whatever sentence you give since in reality I deserve much more than a mere sentence,” said Amara, wearing a white dress shirt, a dark blue sweater vest, and a trimmed beard. “But at the same time I hope that you do not deprive me of a chance to pay for the moral debt that I still owe.”

Standing in a bulletproof prisoner’s box, Amara began his dramatic statement by apologizing for his nervous tone and quoting the Koran: “Stand out firmly for justice as witnesses to God, even against your own selves.” Addressing his “fellow Canadians,” he went on to acknowledge that “many, if not all of you, will never forgive me for my actions. I have no excuses or explanations. I deserve nothing than your complete and absolute contempt. I only wrote these words to simply let you know of how regretful and sorry I feel.”

“As for the Muslims amongst you,” he continued, “I have an additional comment to make. I cannot imagine the type of embarrassment or anxiety you must have gone through in the days following my arrest. I am sure many of you received unwelcome attention and felt hopeless in trying to explain that the actions of a few were not endorsed by the community. I am sure many of you probably cursed me in your heads…I can only hope that when all of you, Muslim and non-Muslim, witness the type of man I will one day make out of myself and the type of activities I’ll be involved in, than you will perhaps contemplate accepting me once more into the fold.”

Why the change of heart? Prison, he says.

In June, after three years in solitary confinement, Amara was transferred into the general population of Toronto’s Don Jail. Fellow inmates—including an unnamed Canadian soldier who fought against insurgents Afghanistan—began to press Amara on his extremist beliefs. “Everyone found it difficult to reconcile between my charges and my humble and kind personality, thus leading the way to many discussions about the justification of terrorist acts,” he said. “At first I vigorously defended my positions, but every time I walked away I walked away with a doubt in my heart. Despite their lack of education and ‘expertise,’ their moral and logical arguments were like pick axes that chiseled away at my ideological walls.” One of those inmates, a Jewish man, went out of his way to befriend Amara. “He once told me that had we been living in Palestine we would have probably killed each other and died failing to realize what good friends we would have made if only we had talked.”

Another fellow prisoner told Amara that he once worked as a banker on Bay Street in Toronto, and that his two brothers worked at the Exchange Tower, the plot’s primary target. “It was ironic,” Amara said. “He was more of a potential victim than anybody else, and seeing him and interacting with him made me reconsider. If somebody shows me that I’m wrong I am willing to accept it.”

Crown attorneys are not quite convinced that Amara is a changed man. In pushing for the toughest sentence possible, prosecutor Iona Jaffe reminded Justice Durno that the person sitting behind her had a “single-minded determination to commit jihadist acts” on Canadian soil. “If everything had gone occurring to plan—the plans Mr. Amara had terribly crafted—many people would have been killed.”

Although 18 suspects were rounded up in the raids, only four were actually connected to the bomb plot—and none played a larger role than Amara. “His leadership in this conspiracy weighs heavily on the scale in favour of a life sentence,” Jaffe said. “He not only knew all the details of the plot; he planned them all. He didn’t just know the quantities of the ammonium nitrate; he ordered it. He didn’t just know the targets; he selected them. He didn’t just join a terrorist group; he formed one.”

As for his sudden conversion, Jaffe offered this observation: “His reformation only took hold firmly after he was released into the general population seven months ago. His ‘de-radicalization’—if, in fact, that has occurred—occurred very recently, relative to the amount of time he diligently pursued his terrorist goal.”

Amara’s lawyer, Michael Lacey, did not try to downplay his client’s crimes. Amara absolutely deserves the “terrorist label,” he said. But in handing down his sentence, Lacey asked the judge to consider the fact that Amara pleaded guilty, accepted full responsibility for his actions, and never once “made a mockery” of the judicial process. “For some accused terrorists who are arrested, the ensuing trial becomes a spectacle, a chance to advance their extremist views on the world stage,” Lacey said. “That is not what Mr. Amara has done. The media is here listening and reporting, and Mr. Amara did not use this forum to try to get some kind of religious, extremist position out across the world. On the contrary, he has apologized, not only to all Canadians, but to all Muslims.”

Lacey also produced for the judge a recent psychiatric assessment, which portrays Amara as a confused, committed Muslim starving for direction, and whose “unmet emotional needs created a susceptibility that allowed him to be infected with an extremist ideology.”

The second of three children, Amara was born in Jordan in 1985, and—despite his eventual devotion to a radical interpretation of Islam—was baptized an Orthodox Christian, his mother’s religion. At the age of four his family moved to Saudi Arabia, where his dad worked for an oil company, although his mom regularly took the children to visit her parents in Cyprus. (Amara still speaks fluent Greek.) By Grade 4, he was living in Cyprus full-time while his father worked out the country. He attended an Arabic school, and according to the report prepared by Dr. Arif Syed, that’s when Amara “first felt converted to Islam.”

In 1997, the whole family moved the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, Ont., where Amara’s father ran a dry-cleaning business and his mother worked at a beauty salon. Before long, his parents’ marriage fell apart; Amara “turned to his practicing Muslim peer group for his source of intimacy, consistency and loyalty.” On Fridays, he gave Islamic lectures at Meadowvale High School, but as one friend told Dr. Syed, “he never mentioned jihad or politics.” As others testified, Amara was “the class clown,” not a fundamentalist.

After graduation, Amara traveled back to Saudi Arabia to apply, in person, to the Islamic studies program at the University of Medina. His application was denied—a turning point in a life that would soon be dominated by violent fantasies.

At the age of 18, he proposed to Nada Farooq, a niqab-wearing classmate whose face he had never seen. His father, a non-religious man, was so furious that he boycotted the wedding. Within a month, Amara’s new wife was pregnant with a baby girl, and he was struggling to support a new family while juggling night classes at Ryerson University. When he dropped out of school to work full-time, he felt the wrath of his dad yet again. “His father left home, gave Zakaria the keys to the car, and went to live in Dubai,” says the psychiatric report. “He has not come back to Canada ever since.”

Now working at a Canadian Tire gas station, Amara began to “transform into a different person,” Dr. Syed wrote. In one interview, Amara told the psychiatrist that he dreamed of joining the insurgency in Afghanistan because “my life was getting difficult.” Along with struggling to take care of his wife and daughter, he felt surrounded by people who did “not live up to Islamic practices, nor live up to promises of loyalty and consistency.”

The report continues: “His self-concept seemed to have hyper-identified with the cause of defending the aimless Muslims against oppression, in exclusion to all the other ways one can be of service to God. He may also have been driven by a need to be important in some way to the perceived Muslim cause.” As Amara later acknowledged to the doctor, “my major problem was lack of guidance.”

“The spiritual ideal of jihad (fighting oneself) stagnated, hardened, and sank into self-aggrandizing bravado,” Dr. Syed wrote. “The daily drudgery of working in dead-end, low-paying jobs helped to create an intellectually stunted environment. Internet jihad videos became more exciting and their causes became more urgent.”

By 2006, that urgency reached a fever pitch. Obsessed with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Amara craved revenge for the “slaughter” of innocent Muslims on the other side of the world. His plan ended on the afternoon of June 2, when heavily armed cops stormed through his front door.

Amara’s sentencing submissions included a letter from his wife, who was at home that day when the officers showed up, guns drawn. “My daughter was just eight months old when her father was taken away,” she wrote. “Now she is four years old. She prays every night that she gets to have her dad home like all other children. After all these years reflecting and contemplating, I believe my husband regrets with all his heart what he has put me and our daughter through.”

As his lawyer read the letter out loud, Amara wiped tears from his eyes. By the last paragraph, he had buried his face in his arms, weeping uncontrollably.

He was no doubt thinking what he told Dr. Syed in October: “I feel like I’ve wasted my life. My whole life I’ve messed up.”


 

Bomb plot ringleader: “I will change…” (UPDATED)

  1. I'd like him monitored very closely for the next decade to ensure this is not a ruse. This guy was no duped youth, he was the leader himself. have to make an example.

  2. Having just read several versions of this story two things strike me: 1. Hard-core jihadis do not apologize to infidels, therefore it certainly appears his repentance is heart-felt. 2. What horrors would have been unleashed if he had succeeded. Results: I can forgive him, as I have had to be forgiven, and thank God for the RCMP, CSIS, plus the Muslim men who played along within the plot in order to allow successful prosecution. I still hope he gets "life"- which (only in Canada) means parole possibly in six years- then he can, closely supervised, begin to try to win back the trust of his fellw Canadians by his works of construction.

    • Amen! May some of us live long enough to see his "good works".

    • what do we do about the Jewish terrorists who did 9-11, 3-11, 7-7, Kenya/Tanzania embassy bombings, Trinidad bombings, Philippines bombings, Iraq bombings, and other terror bombings which the Jewish media down here claimed was done by "Al Qaeda" …when it was done by Israeli military intelligence…the Iraqi resistance has killed many Jewish terrorists from the Mossad in Iraq…are you guys willing to do anything for the innocent muslims framed for terrorist acts they didn't do…? or are you part of the global war on Islam? do you want to be carpet bombed in the not too near future? Believe me, NORAD and AWACS can't protect the North American airspace from a foreign invading army entering. Are you willing to get slaughtered by foreign troops any time soon? And those of you who fight back…will be labelled terrorists and insurgents…even if the resistance is popular and supported by most people?

  3. Taqquit, its a lie. Lock him up and throw away the key. Bastard.

  4. Beyond obvious but further evidence that we need to be LOUDER when it comes to challenging other people's beliefs. Yeah, 3 years in jail, before that it was decades in society… Being vocal about your beliefs about how we should live and think also exposes yourself to criticism and scrutiny and that is a good thing. I'm the most secular and scientific person you'll ever meet but I'm not beyond reproach… But how will I ever learn my ideas could be improved if I don't put them out there? Radical Islam is one thing, but we have wacko cults, new age charlatans, alternative medicine, garbage self-help… Protect the vulnerable and speak out in the name of rationality and skepticism! Help these people by challenging their indefensible positions, they'll thank you later!

  5. When a squadron of donkey's in Vic formation do a split S around the CN tower…

  6. Very striking history there. Parents essentially sending the message to children that they don't count, trekking around the world seeking professional success and money, wrenching their offspring mentally in the process, that obviously is not confined to evil decadent Western circles…

    Maybe he isn't a guy we ought to totally throw away, but he needs to learn coping mechanisms. A lot of people copuld have suffered an undeserved death due to his weak foundations. Maybe he is trying to do better by his own child; shame that he was acting in a self-defeating manner there. That daughter of his isn't going to have a dad for a long time…

    If there is a message here to us all it is that we need to understand, that once we have children it isn't about us any more, and it never will be again. If that could seep into all of our thick skulls, we would live in a different world.

  7. Look no offense to anyone's views on this but I'm at the boiling point with extremists. They either lock him away in solitary for the rest of his life or put him in front of a shooting squad, he was planning a attack in our country for love of pete!! What the hell!!! And I'm supposed to feel bad for him??

    • what are we going to do about the Jewish terrorists who did 9-11 and 7-7 and 3-11 and countless terrorist attacks?

  8. Its time Canada steps up and start giving out stiff sentences. People who try to bring destruction and murder upon true fellow Canadians should be shipped back to there own country and never allowed back here again, why must we keep supporting them whether in jail or not. What is wrong with our Government when will the wake up, that's right when its to late. Why must we feel sorry for these people or any other persons who create, cause destruction and murder in this country. Just get rid of them, simple really or bring back the DEATH PENALTY I will pull the lever if no one else has the courage to do so. Will I said my peace for now. Lets see how many comments will disagree ******** you are weak******** I am strong and I am CANADIAN

    • I agree. Bring back the death penalty.

  9. He's a terrorist about to face the sentence for his crimes. What is he going to say, "oh yeah, once I am out of jail I'll attempt this again". He's playing on the sympathies of us push-over Canadians. Sentence his as though his plan actually went through and he and his gang of degenerates got their wish and killed hundreds of innocent people. Jail forever or a firing squad.

  10. What if the bomb had gone off?

    If not for the matters of circumstance that lead this plot to its discovery, he was planning to detonate 3 tonnes of explosive downtown Toronto. Would we be so willing to accept his apology had dozens died? Canada needs to sentence this guy to the max to show these people we are willing to throw away the key…….

  11. We have white (mostly Christians) people, gone to muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, kill their women and children and took over their countries.

    We have arab people(mostly muslims) committed cowardly act by blowing up buildings, airplanes, etc, killing as many innocent people as possible.

    So, who is the good guy and who is the bad?

    Who will gain the most at the end? Certainly, not the Christians, not the Muslims, not the Buddhists, not the HIndus and not the Sikhs either.

  12. Nada Farooq quoted in the Globe & Mail article;

    There is nothing casual about Ms. Farooq's interpretation of Islam. She reiterates the belief that jihad is the "sixth pillar" of the religion, and her on-line postings are decidedly interested in the violent kind. In the forum titled "Terrorism and killing civilians," she writes a detailed point-by-point explanation of why the Taliban is destined to emerge victorious in Afghanistan.

    Ms. Farooq's criticism is often directed first at other Muslims. When another poster writes about how he finds homosexuality disgusting, Nada replies by pointing out that there are even gay Muslims. She then posts a photo of a rally held by Al-Fatiha, a Canadian support group for gay Muslims. "Look at these pathetic people," she writes. "They should all be sent to Saudi, where these sickos are executed or crushed by a wall, in public."..

    I'm having trouble reconciling her to this story. No one thinks she had anything to do with this?

    OK fine.

  13. I'm just troubled that the police would facilitate this kind of thing…

    There are lots of people with warped fantasies out there, but the reason the police facilitate Muslims with murderous fantasies is simple: to keep the war on terror alive, well and fully financed.

    Really, if we hadn't had police informants supplying fake bomb materials, if we hadn't had police informants buying them guns, if we hadn't had police informants driving them up into the woods to choreograph "training-style" camping videos, what would be left? Just some daydreaming whackos we've never heard of.

    If homegrown terrorism is a real threat, then how come I've never heard of a plot busted up in which the police didn't facilitate it?

  14. There are 1,500 000,000 Muslims (almost one quarter of the World Population).Islam Grew in just 1400 years. Judaism grew in thousands of years to current 10 Million or Christianity is almost equal to Muslims. In recent years NATO with 100,000 occupy Afghanistan. Democratically Elected Govt of Ayatollahs of Rich Oil Iran is being introduced as bad not recognizing legal election legal democracy due to Karrabul getting 1% vote and former Leader little more. Individual Muslim fighters so called Bomb Plotters are few.OIC have many Muslim Countries OPEC OAU and every organized group have Muslim Countries.It is simply not possible to write off Islam with Comments and counter comments and actions of few Muslims. Muslims are not supposed to kill go into wishy washy jihad act individually or by Suicide bombings and terror acts. Since arrival of NATO US and Allied forces and Israeli Expansion from 22000 to 5 Million, displaced Muslims killed Muslims so called Insurgent Muslims Muslim vs. Muslim or None Muslims .They are on rise depending upon Move made by occupying forces

    • 1500000000 Koranimals. There are that many insects as well, who cares.

      • Mud throwing by invading 100,000 Us Allied Soldiers with publicity giving to Lone Nigerian Lone shoe bomber Lone Lone Zakaria Asmara Lone Bin Ladin with 19 children Grand children with multiple wives with Billionaire father with 50 wives and concubines and unlimited Children being used to justify Wall to wall carpet bombing dropping 250,000 tons of bombs in Iraq invading Afghanistan .Why quote above and ripping off 1,500 000 000 Muslims group in jst 1400 yrs.Why 22000 jews now became 5 000 000 if number does not count amid equal christian 1 500
        000 000.More over making daily fuss for soldiers killed bragging Hundreds of Muslims killed for the loss of few-
        as super role model supremists by force.By rule of Thumb one in a billion and half need emphasizing from now on wards for technical reason?

  15. Yeah and if you believe that, Ive got a bridge to sell you! OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!

  16. Of course he must pay for his crimes and suffer the courts penalty on here on earth. I am a christian and I join his christian relatives who must certainly be praying for his soul.

  17. I am Muslim, and i would say keep him in jail for 20 years then send him back to his native country. These kinda people are creating problems in their native countries and when that was not enough they are looking for places like Canada. deport him and all others like him.

    • Now put your money where your mouth is. If the so-called "peace loving Muslims" would take these guys in hand, our police forces and security people wouldn't have to work flat out to try and keep them from destroying our country. We don't trust Muslims period and with good reason – Sept. 11, Al Quaeda, the Malaysian debacle, etc. etc. These are not isolated incidents and every country in the Muslim world is doing its part to train and brainwash people to be mass murderers. There are really no words to describe the rage I feel for these ungrateful, sadistic, inhuman, home-grown maniacs.

  18. Lets deport him so we dont have to feed him.

  19. These "people" above everything else are professional con men . It's the only way they get anywhere in life, lying and cheating and killing . There will come a day when this BS is over . It's just a matter of time . Too bad it will only happen when everyone sees an attack performed by some of these animals after they BS everyone to let them go.

  20. “I feel like I've wasted my life. My whole life I've messed up.”

    If you are genuine, sir, you have embarked on turning that around. If you are genuine, sir, you will accept making up for your deeds — from behind bars. For a very long time.

    Thanks to our security folks and (at least?) one informant, you were unable to mess up too many innocent lives. But you sure messed up those of your wife and daughter –they will need the most of your restitution efforts. And you sure messed up the lives of a bunch of impressionable dopes, as their ringleader.

    If you take your punishment like an honest man, truly recognizing your evil conduct, you will begin to earn my respect. Good luck.

  21. He is lying. Fake aplogy.

  22. The whites are trying to control the energy resource such as oil and control the Muslim population growth.

    The Muslims are trying to destroy all non believers so their religion can rule the world.

    The Jews and other religions are kind of saying: You guys are doing great, please don't stop killing each other.

    • There is no Muslim from Afghanistan there is no Countries from 1,500 000 000 Umma who participated in 9/11
      or waging war on Christianity or Chistian countries.Why sudden so hate mongering against Muslims?Why sudden US and Allied soldiers and their invasion why sudden expenditure in hundreds of billion dollars to stay in Muslim World
      discriminate Muslims living in the west.Upon close look the none Muslim immigrants (once assylum seekers) now have become advisors to western society with :' how to enrich by terrorizing Muslims home and abroad".These none
      ethical alliance of anti Muslim elements and those with new wealth making technique alliance of all none Muslims
      is root cause.Even in tough economic time this is no way to treat Muslims home and abroad.Together they are bringing down once prosperous West.

      • If you can't communicate in English well enough to make yourself understood, please don't waste our time with your useless, paranoid schizophrenic rantings.

        • Jewish terrorists did 9-11, 7-7, 3-11, and other terrorist attacks often blamed on Muslims. Israeli shin beit agents tampered explosives in Richard Reid's shoes. When Rick was charged he pleaded innocent. A year later, with threats to his family, he pleaded guilty.

  23. All people are sorry when they get caught – don't believe this for a minute. Given all the tactics terrorists use, such as claiming torture whenever they are caught which just throws the western countries into a dizzy, this is just another tactic that we are falling for.

  24. he's crying cuz he got caught. think of how happy he would be if the bomb went off. imagine this guy laughing out loud while we tend to devastation and death, carnage and chaos. now tell me how this apology feels.

  25. Don't put him in jail. Don't kill him. Just turn him into a male prostitute so white Christian gay men can bang his ass nights and days. And donate all the money earned to his potential victims, meaning all Canadians.

  26. Just to let you folks know, it cost us taxpayers $68,000.00 per year to keep these and all criminals in jail. I do believe that is more then most people make working to just stay alive. Why should we pay….Why should we keep them in our country…. Why not look after ourselves first. No just give them totally free living for years at our expense. Just ship them back to there own country, for more serious crimes just bring back the death penalty. No second chances, they all know from right and wrong its just our GOVERNMENT that don't know from right or wrong lmao vote for me I will get the job done

  27. Bring back the death penalty.

  28. As a Long resident when few Muslim lived in Canada or in UK /EU I came 2 degrees Eng with wealth . I married a white catholic I noticed in which ever area I lived suddenly Zakaria population started growing in my vicnity with my story via internet .Then Muslim Population Thousands changing Asylum Seekers technique via firms and their doctors. Looking into case Of Zakaria Asmara After recently I was called at Pearson Airport vicinity by Immigration official that a man is holding my letter of business. I went I noticed it was 30 yr old letter with new dates. Unable to protect my own ID theft due to lay out via Equifax Immigration Consultant their doctors and perfect designed story it occurred they may have been designed “to be in jail for a few years then pardoned then immigration with own passport”. Niqab pregnancy and acquired ID with bank accounts degree and cash acquisition bank loan mortgage loan comes with ID Theft in circulation without protection to me.

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