VANCOUVER – Accused terrorist John Nuttall told an undercover officer in the weeks leading up to his alleged Canada Day plot to attack the British Columbia legislature that he converted to Islam because he wanted “jihad,” his trial heard Wednesday.
Nuttall, who is now on trial alongside his wife, sat in a police vehicle with an RCMP officer posing as an Arab businessman in June 2013, unaware their conversation was being recorded.
In a video of that encounter, Nuttall tells the officer he wants “justice,” for what, he doesn’t say, and was drawn to Islam because of what he saw as the 9/11 hijackers’ courage to “stand up.”
“I wanted jihad before I became a Muslim,” Nuttall says in the video, which was played for the jury.
“I just wanted justice. … When 9/11 happened, I became really interested with these people.”
Nuttall and Amanda Korody are accused of four terrorism-related charges. They both sat in the prisoners’ dock Wednesday watching video and audio recordings from the undercover RCMP operation.
The Crown alleges Nuttall and Korody, who were recent converts to Islam, built pressure-cooker bombs and then placed them on the front lawn of the legislature in Victoria hours before Canada Day festivities. The RCMP ensured the bombs were inert, the Crown says.
The court hasn’t heard when Nuttall and Korody converted, but Nuttall suggests he came to Islam already looking for violence.
“The first thing I said when I converted is, ‘How do I worship my God?”’ Nuttall says in the video.
“And my second question was, ‘Where is my gun? Let’s go do jihad.”
Nuttall says he tried to find other Muslims in the Vancouver area who shared his views but was shunned at every mosque he visited. Some people he encountered called the police, he says.
The RCMP officer, who can’t be named, told the court he befriended Nuttall by posing as a Muslim who needed help looking for his niece. Over the next four months, the trial heard, Nuttall met with the officer numerous times to outline his plan, with the officer offering to help obtain supplies such as explosives.
Nuttall said in earlier footage that he was inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings, which left three people dead and wounded more than 260 in April 2013, and decided to use the same type of pressure-cooker bombs. He downloaded the plans from the Internet, he explained earlier.
Korody made her first appearance Wednesday in the undercover surveillance footage, sitting in the back of the vehicle wearing a scarf over her head during a meeting in late June.
The woman mostly sits quietly in the back seat, interjecting occasionally.
At one point, Nuttall explains the need for an escape plan, though he also says it’s likely he and Korody would be killed in the aftermath of the attack.
“With that knowledge, does that make it halal?” asks Korody, referring to their deaths being permissible within Islamic law.
“It makes it halal because we’re going to try to not get shot,” Nuttall replies. “We’re going to try and plan an escape route, but … I don’t think were going to come back from this.”
Nuttall also lists other possible targets in the Victoria area, including a passenger ferry that travels between the city and Seattle, an area around the city’s former wax museum that is often busy with tourists, or a nearby military base, which he suggests storming with automatic weapons.
He expresses a particular interest in targeting soldiers or American tourists.
Nuttall and Korody have each pleaded not guilty.
The trial is expected to last up to 18 weeks.