Ontario Court of Appeal doubles sentence for terrorist financing conviction

By Christine Duhaime | December 27th, 2010

The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld the conviction, and doubled the sentence of, Mohammad Khawaja, an Ottawa native, for terrorist financing and other terrorism-related charges. Calling Khawaja’s 10½ year sentence “manifestly unfit”, the Court substituted his previous sentence to a sentence of life imprisonment plus 24 years to be served concurrently.

Khawaja is the first person convicted in Ontario of terrorist financing under the federal Anti-terrorism Act.

Terrorism must not be allowed to take root in Canada. When it is detected, it must be dealt with in the severest of terms, the Court stated in its decision.

The Court found that Khawaja:

  • Was an active member of a terrorist group whose goal was to eradicate western culture and civilization and establish Islamic dominance.
  • Was prepared to go anywhere and do anything for the violent jihadist cause.
  • At the time of arrest, was in possession of a prototype remote detonator device and had promised to build 30 more such devices for a terrorist group.  The device was intended to be used to bomb key locations for the jihad.
  • Willingly participated knowing that his activity was likely to result in the killing of innocent people on a massive scale.

In several e-mails Khawaja expressed the need to devise a way to drain the economies of “Kuffars” (a derogatory term for non-believers of Islam that in this case includes Canadians) of all their resources, crippling their industries and bankrupting their systems by violent means including through the random murder of civilians.

In the decision, the Court of Appeal stated:

“Terrorism is a crime unto itself. It has no equal. It does not stop at, nor is it limited to, the senseless destruction of people and property.  It is far more insidious in that it attacks our very way of life and seeks to destroy the fundamental values to which we ascribe – values that form the essence of our constitutional democracy…once detected, it must be dealt with in the severest of terms…

When terrorists, acting on Canadian soil, are apprehended and brought to justice, the responsibility lies with the courts to send a clear and unmistakable message that terrorism is reprehensible and those who choose to engage in it here will pay a very heavy price…

Terrorists, in particular, may view Canada as an attractive place from which to pursue their heinous activities. And it is up to the courts to shut the door on that way of thinking, swiftly and surely.”

You can read the full decision (R. v. Khawaja 2010 ONCA 862) here.

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