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Foiled terrorism plot targeted TSX, CSIS Add to ...

A foiled terrorism plot targeting the Toronto area sought to destabilize the economy by attacking targets including the Toronto Stock Exchange with three truck bombs set off over several days - possibly starting on Sept. 11, a court heard Monday.

The Superior Court of Justice heard in an agreed statement of facts that one of the alleged co-conspirators wanted the 2006 plot to "screw" Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the government and the military, hoped the attacks would be bigger than the London subway bombings, and believed they would make Canada rethink its involvement in Afghanistan.

He also said he wanted to "detonate the bombs on three consecutive days, rather than simultaneously, because he feels it would have a greater impact on Canada and result in Canadians not leaving their homes due to fear," according to the statement of facts read by Crown lawyer Croft Michaelson.

The other targets included CSIS headquarters in Toronto and an unspecified military base off Highway 401 between Ottawa and Toronto.

Information gathered by an undercover agent also revealed that two of the ringleaders disagreed about whether the bombs should kill innocent bystanders, and one planned to leave the country before the explosions were set off.

Expert reports based on an analysis of the plans and materials found in one of the men's homes said a test of those plans showed that "the blast effect from the bomb was equivalent to 768 kilograms of TNT, and would have caused catastrophic damage to a multi-storey glass and steel frame building 35 metres from the bomb site, as well as killing or causing serous injuries to people in the path of the blast waves and force."

The account in the agreed statement of facts was read into a court record during a sentencing hearing for Saad Khalid, 22 - the first of the so-called Toronto 18 to enter a guilty plea in relation to the domestic terrorism plot.

Mr. Khalid pleaded guilty to a single count of participating in a terrorist group "with the intention of causing an explosion or explosions that were likely to cause serious bodily harm or death," or to damage property.

The charge alleges that Mr. Khalid acted with other conspirators, including those who discussed the plot, who cannot be named due to a publication ban.

Mr. Khalid's actual involvement with the plan appears to have been of a more supportive nature, with tasks that included renting a home for the others to work in, moving bags of explosive materials from a van to the warehouse he eventually rented, and driving one of the bomb trucks.

That last task was never completed, since Mr. Khalid was arrested while moving the bags - an act captured on video and played for the court.

The court also heard a recording of a message Mr. Khalid left for some of the other men, discussing his progress securing the items he was asked to procure, explaining his unavailability on the nights he had soccer practice and games, and apologizing for losing the pager the members of the group used to communicate because "we need to be careful … there is no room for error; this is not a joke."

The statement of facts said Mr. Khalid attended a training camp in Washago, Ont., in 2005 - though it adds Mr. Khalid may not have know it was a terrorist camp before attending.

He also took part in a meeting with two of the other men accused in the case.

His lawyer, Russell Silverstein, told Mr. Justice Bruce Durno his client's involvement was minimal, and it's up to the Crown to show otherwise.

"It's the Crown's positions that [the alleged co-conspirators]had in mind blowing up buildings in downtown Toronto - the Crown I'm sure will argue to Justice Durno that our client shared that intention," Mr. Silverstein said outside the courthouse.

"We are of the view that the evidence suggests that he did not - our client did not share those intentions. His role was in unloading the explosive and storing the explosives, but to what end is what Justice Durno is going to have to decide in this case."

Mr. Khalid was among 18 people arrested in the Toronto area in the summer of 2006 and charged with several terrorism-related offences after an investigation by CSIS, Canada's spy agency.

Charges against seven of the accused have been stayed or dropped.

A man who was a youth at the time of his arrest was convicted in September of conspiring to bomb several targets.

The offences allegedly took place between March and June, 2006, in Mississauga, Ont., and a rural township near Orillia, Ont.

When Mr. Khalid entered his guilty plea last month, no agreed statement of facts was entered and there has been no finding of guilt or conviction.

Both sides will be back in court Wednesday and the sentencing hearing is expected to last for the rest of week.

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