Man pleads guilty to terror charge in Canada

A Canadian man pleaded guilty to his role in a homegrown terror plot that heightened fears in a country where many people thought they were relatively immune from terrorist strikes.

Lawyer Robert Nuttall said Ali Dirie pleaded guilty to one count of participating in a terrorist group.

Dirie, who is in his mid-20s, is the second adult to plead guilty since the 2006 arrest of the Toronto 18, a group prosecutors accuse of planning to truck-bomb Toronto’s Stock Exchange, a building which houses Canada’s spy agency and a military base.

Earlier this month, confessed bomb-plotter Saad Khalid was sentenced to 14 years in prison after admitting he was part of the scheme, but the judge also granted him seven years credit for time already served.

Khalid was arrested while unloading what he and some of his fellow alleged conspirators believed was three tons of ammonium nitrate – three times what was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

A 20-year-old defendant was sentenced in May to two-and-a-half years after a judge found him guilty of helping and taking part in a terrorist organization, but with time already served factored in he was allowed to walk free. The man has not been identified because he was 17, a legal minor, when he was arrested in 2006.

The trials of eight other adults, including the alleged ringleaders, have not started. The case developed after the suspects were followed, wiretapped as well as infiltrated by two paid police informants.

Seven of those originally arrested have had their charges either withdrawn or the government has decided not to proceed with the charges. A judge in 2006 imposed a restriction on ongoing bail hearings that prohibits journalists from explaining why.

All of the suspects are Canadians.

Dirie still faces a charge for gun smuggling. Mr Nuttall declined to comment further on the guilty plea, citing a publication ban on the case.

He will be back in court tomorrow for sentencing submissions.

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