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Another 'Toronto 18' suspect pleads guilty

Another suspect in Canada's so-called "Toronto 18" terrorism case has pleaded guilty to a terrorism charge.

Ali Dirie pleaded guilty yesterday to one count of participating in a terrorist group.

He was considered a peripheral player in a plot that targeted southern Ontario landmarks, a case of homegrown terrorism in Canada that led to 18 arrests and, now, three convictions.

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Now in his mid-20s, Mr. Dirie had been arrested and convicted of a gunrunning charge before the training camp and bomb plot in which other suspects are accused of participating in. He still faces a charge involving smuggling a handgun across the Canada-U.S. border.

Submissions for his sentencing will be made tomorrow, and Mr. Dirie will be sentenced on Friday, Oct. 2. Crown prosecutor Clyde Bond declined to say what prison term he'd seek.

Mr. Dirie is the second adult to plead guilty in as many months in the Toronto terrorism conspiracy that sparked the high-profile arrests of young extremists across the city in 2006.

After a surprise guilty plea last month, confessed bomb-plotter Saad Khalid was sentenced early this month to 14 years in prison after admitting he was part of a scheme to explode truck bombs in downtown Toronto. Mr. Khalid was caught unloading boxes marked "ammonium nitrate" from the back of a truck.

In handing down a stern ruling - despite mitigating factors such as Mr. Khalid's age, remorse and tangential role - Mr. Justice Bruce Durno said this month that Canadian courts have an obligation to punish terrorism harshly.

"Canadian society relies on ballots and not bullets or bombs to change policy," he wrote in the 48-page decision read aloud in court on Sept. 3. " ... Terrorist offences are the most vile form of criminal conduct."

In what was considered the first successful conviction on Canada's 2001 anti-terrorism laws, a youth was found guilty a year ago of attending a makeshift terrorism training camp north of Toronto.

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After the arrest of 18 people in June, 2006, the case had been dubbed the "Toronto 18" conspiracy.

Seven suspects were let go on peace bonds. Eight adults arrested in the case will face trial in the new year. A publication ban is still in effect in the case of Mr. Dirie, preventing the publication of details that could identify the other accused.

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About the Author
National security reporter

Focusing on Canadian matters during the past decade, Colin Freeze has reported extensively on the interplay between government, police, spy services, and the judiciary. Colin has twice been to Afghanistan to be embedded with the Canadian military. More

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