Accused Hindu-born jihadist lacked `fervour for terror plot’

August 8th, 2008 - 1:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Aug 8 (IANS) At the on-going trial here of a Hindu-born youth who converted to Islam and was arrested two years ago as part of a terror plot, his lawyer said Thursday that his client had no knowledge of any terror plot. He said the 20-year-old youth also lacked the religious fervour to carry out a terror plot.

In a major operation in June 2006, the Canadian police had unearthed what later came to be known as Toronto-18 terror plot - because of the alleged involvement of 18 Al Qaeda linked persons to it.

The 18 plotters had allegedly planned to blow up the commercial hub of Toronto, and storm the nation’s parliament in Ottawa to take leaders hostage and behead the prime minister.

To carry out the plot, they had allegedly undergone training in use of firearms at a rural camp in northern Ontario in December 2005. A police mole blew the cover on the plot.

Of the 18 arrested, 10 are in jail and four on bail. The trial of three has been stayed.

The trial of the 18th person, who is a Hindu convert to Islam, is now under way.

Defending his client Thursday, his lawyer Faisal Mirza told the court Thursday that “unlike most Muslims, he is not from a predominantly Muslim nation”.

Mirza said the youth had little knowledge of Islam as he had just entered its fold “with a blank slate”.

He argued that the youth was at the beginning of his journey into Islam and thus “not well-versed with it”.

Mirza argued that the prosecution might say that made him a prime target (for recruitment). “But (his lack of Islamic knowledge) frames his state of mind,” the lawyer said.

To bolster his argument in favour of the youth’s innocence, Mirza said his client cannot read, speak or understand Arabic.

At an earlier hearing in June, the court was told that the young man had strained relationship with his Hindu parents because of his conversion to Islam.

The court was also told that he took pictures of Hindu deities to the arms training camp, and that these pictures were attached to a tree to be used for target practice.

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