Stewart Bell, National Post (Canada), Sept. 24, 2009
A Toronto man who admitted yesterday he was a member of a terrorist group that planned attacks in Canada was caught on police wiretaps saying he hated non-Muslims.
Ali Mohamed Dirie, a Canadian born in Somalia, called white people the “No. 1 filthiest people on the face of the planet. They don’t have Islam. They’re the most filthiest people.”
He added that, “In Islam there is no racism, we only hate kufar [non-Muslims].”
The 26-year-old was one of 18 Toronto-area men charged in 2006 in connection with a plot to attack targets in Southern Ontario in order to terrorize Canadians into withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
Yesterday, in a Brampton courtroom, Dirie acknowledged he had obtained handguns and ammunition in the United States knowing they were for the terrorist group’s ringleader, who followed “an extremist interpretation of Islam.”
For almost two hours, the Crown read a 28-page statement of facts before Justice Bruce Durno. When he was finished, Dirie, dressed in a grey hoodie, baggy jeans and a blue skullcap, was asked if he thought it was accurate.
“Yes, I do,” he said.
Dirie has pleaded guilty to participating in the activities of a terrorist group. A second charge of committing an offence for a terrorist group was stayed. The Crown and defence have agreed on a seven-year sentence but disagree over how much credit he deserves for the time he has already spent behind bars.
Crown prosecutor Clyde Bond wants him to serve two more years while the defence wants him to be released at his sentencing next Friday.
Since his arrest, Dirie has shown no remorse and has behaved badly, punching a corrections officer in the face, spitting at another officer and throwing tea at another, Mr. Bond said. His lawyer, Robert Nuttall, said while Dirie was “passionately opposed to Canada’s role in Afghanistan” he had matured and no longer believed in using violence to advance his political beliefs.
Mr. Nuttall said Dirie, who has a high school education, had lost his father in an attack in Somalia but that he had a supportive family in Canada that did not believe in the use of terrorism or violence.
Much of the agreed statement of facts read before Judge Durno consisted of intercepted telephone calls between Dirie and the alleged ringleader of the terrorist group, who cannot be named because of a publication ban.
Dirie was arrested at the Peace Bridge border crossing near Buffalo, N. Y., in August, 2005, while returning to Canada in a car rented by the alleged ringleader. Customs officers found bullets in Dirie’s socks and two loaded semiautomatic handguns taped to his thighs.
Later, the man said to be the ringleader told undercover police agent Mubin Shaikh that two of his associates had been arrested at the border with handguns and that “they were supposed to bring back assault rifles but they deviated from the plan.”
While he was imprisoned for gun smuggling, Dirie spoke repeatedly with the alleged ringleader and talked often about buying more guns, which they referred to using code words such as “girls,” “wives” or “black chicks.”
“After his arrest in August 2005, Dirie continued to consider himself to be a member of that group even though he was incarcerated,” Mr. Bond said.
“He actively took steps to make connections with persons to facilitate the acquisition of guns . . . . He actively took steps to arrange for the acquisition of false travel documents for himself and members of the group.
“He took an active role in recruiting other inmates to adopt extreme jihadi beliefs and to become members of, or involved in supporting, the terrorist group through means such as ‘hardcore dawas.’ ” A dawa is a call to convert to Islam.
He also agreed that, even while he was imprisoned, he had provided “encouragement, advice and direction” to the alleged ringleader about such matters as acquiring guns and recruiting.
At one point, the alleged ringleader sent CDs to Dirie, who was then at the Collins Bay prison, that were labelled Qu’ran but which actually contained footage of Osama bin Laden calling for attacks on the United States.
The arrests of the “Toronto 18” followed lengthy investigations by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, RCMP and other police forces into homegrown Canadian extremists inspired by al-Qaeda.
The group trained at a camp north of Toronto but then broke into two factions. One group began planning truck bombings in Toronto and at a military base. Dirie was linked to the leader of the other group, who had discussed storming the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa.
Police made the arrests before any attacks occurred.
Dirie is the third member of the terrorist group to face sentencing so far. Saudi-born Saad Khalid has also pleaded guilty and Nishanthan Yogakrishnan, a Sri Lankan who converted to Islam, was convicted last September.
Eight others are awaiting trial.