Canadian sentenced in terrorism case
TORONTO - A judge sentenced a Canadian man to 10 1/2 years in prison yesterday for plotting with a group of British Muslims to bomb buildings and natural gas lines in the United Kingdom.
Momim Khawaja is the first person to be sentenced under Canadian antiterrorism laws passed after the Sept. 11 attacks. His case is considered to be the first major test of the laws.
The Canadian-born Muslim of Pakistani descent was accused of collaborating with Britons of Pakistani descent in a thwarted 2004 plan to attack a London nightclub, a shopping center and electrical and gas facilities.
Khawaja pleaded not guilty to all charges but was convicted last fall of financing and facilitating terrorism. The judge ruled Khawaja was aware of the group's terrorist purpose, but the prosecution failed to prove he knew that the remote-control device he built to set off explosions was meant to be used in a plot to explode fertilizer bombs in London.
Five coconspirators were convicted in London in 2007 and sent to prison for life.
Justice Douglas Rutherford of Ontario Superior Court yesterday called Khawaja "a willing and eager participant" in a terrorist scheme. But he said the coconspirators were "away out in front . . . in terms of their determination to bring death, destruction and terror to innocent people."
Wesley Wark, a University of Toronto professor and national security expert, said he had thought Khawaja would get a life sentence like the others.