A man who pleaded guilty to participating in a plot to bomb targets in Toronto has had his day parole extended as the Parole Board of Canada found he has made a “strong beginning” to his period of conditional release.
In January, Saad Gaya was initially granted six months of day parole, with special conditions that included avoiding contact with those involved in criminal activity and a requirement to participate in religious counselling to deal with religious extremism.
The board has since reviewed his case and decided to extended his day parole up until his statutory release date, which a spokeswoman said is in January 2017.
Gaya, now 28, was one of the so-called Toronto 18 — a group of men and youths who were accused of plotting to bomb targets in Ontario that included the Toronto Stock Exchange, CSIS headquarters and a military base, all in protest of Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan.
Eleven were ultimately convicted of terrorist offences.
Gaya, a former science student at Hamilton’s McMaster University, was arrested in 2006 while unloading a delivery truck filled with three tonnes of bags marked ammonium nitrate fertilizer. He was originally sentenced in 2010 to 12 years in prison, and an appeal court increased that to 18 years.
Gaya’s day parole, which took effect in February, allows him to attend school, but he must return to a community-based residential facility at night.
In its written decision, the Parole Board notes that Gaya has competed his Bachelor of Arts degree in political economy from a recognized Canadian university and wants to obtain a degree in economics by next spring.
“Your accountability, motivation and reintegration potential are all assessed as high,” the board said in its decision. “All file information demonstrates a focused approach to your ongoing educational pursuits.”
The board noted that Gaya has been working with two former Correctional Service of Canada imams in denouncing religious extremism.
It also noted that his day parole release allowed him to reconnect with immediate and extended family members, including a sister and brother-in-law who supported him.
“In the board’s view you have made a strong beginning to your period of conditional release,” it said.
“However, it is a beginning. Mindful of the negative influences that so easily led you to engage in terrorist plotting and the horrendous consequences of your actions should your criminal activity have not been discovered, the board is reiterating its conclusion that a slow, gradual and monitored release in your case will ensure public safety.”Report Typo/Error