- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2006

BRAMPTON, Ontario — At least one member of a group of terror suspects plotted to storm Canada’s parliament and behead officials, including the prime minister, if Muslim prisoners in Canada and Afghanistan were not released, according to charges made public yesterday.

Authorities also charged that Steven Vikash Chand plotted to take over media outlets such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

“There’s an allegation, apparently, that my client personally indicated that he wanted to behead the prime minister of Canada,” lawyer Gary Batasar said. “It’s a very serious allegation. My client has said nothing about that.”

Mr. Chand is a 25-year-old restaurant worker from Toronto. Charges were expected to be read against at least some of the other suspects yesterday.

Mr. Batasar spoke outside the courthouse, where bail hearings for 10 of the 17 suspects were postponed. He said the charges were based on fearmongering by government officials.

“It appears to me that whether you’re in Ottawa or Toronto or Crawford, Texas, or Washington, D.C., what is wanting to be instilled in the public is fear,” he said.

The Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton, a small city just west of Toronto, said Monday that the suspects faced charges including participating in a terrorist group, importing weapons and planning a bombing. Details of the charges were not made public until yesterday.

Police expect more arrests, and intelligence officers are probing possible ties between the Canadian suspects — 12 men and five teenagers — and Islamic terror cells in six nations, including the United States.

A Muslim leader who knew the oldest suspect, 43-year-old Qayyum Abdul Jamal, said his sermons at a local mosque were “filled with hate” against Canada.

“These youth were very fun-loving guys, soccer-loving guys, and then all of sudden they were not associating with guys they used to,” said Faheem Bukhari, a director of the Mississauga Muslim Community Center.

He said Mr. Jamal gave hateful, intolerant sermons at a storefront mosque in Mississauga, a city near Toronto, where six of the suspects lived.

“People around him knew he was very extreme,” Mr. Bukhari said, adding that Mr. Jamal once told “the audience that the Canadian forces were going to Afghanistan to rape women.”

Canada has about 2,300 soldiers in southern Afghanistan to bolster Afghan reconstruction and combat Taliban militants.

The adult suspects all are charged with one count of participating in a terrorist group. Three of them also are charged with importing weapons and ammunition for the purpose of terrorist activity.

Nine face charges of receiving training from a terrorist group, while four are charged with providing training. Six are charged with intending to cause an explosion that could cause serious bodily harm or death.

No information was released on the five teenagers who were arrested, owing to privacy laws that protect minors.

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