‘Toronto 18’ convict granted day parole so he can go to graduate school..


Saad Gaya, one of 11 Toronto men convicted for planning a series of al-Qaida-inspired terrorist attacks in Southern Ontario, has been granted day parole in order to attend graduate school.

“You have clearly demonstrated your denunciation of radicalization and you presented as being very genuine in this regard,” wrote the Parole Board of Canada in a New Year’s Eve decision releasing the 28-year-old Gaya into a Toronto halfway house.

In 2010, Gaya was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in the “Toronto 18” terrorist plot, a foiled plan to commit mass murder in both Ottawa and Toronto.

Before he was arrested in an RCMP sting in 2006, the 21-year-old Gaya was pegged by ringleaders to drive a bomb-laden truck to one of three sites in the Greater Toronto Area, one of which was the Toronto Stock Exchange.

If carried out, the co-ordinated attacks could have been, as described by one security expert, as being akin to “Canada’s 9/11.”

“You admitted today that as a result of your growing extremist views that if an innocent person had died as a result of a bombing attack, that it was an acceptable outcome,” read parole documents.

Like many home-grown terrorists, Gaya sprang from fairly normal beginnings. Born in Montreal to Pakistani-born parents, parole documents the family as “culturally Muslim, but not overly strict in their following of the religion.”

“Letters written to the court described you as somewhat naïve and immature, having been sheltered at home, and you were even referred to as spoiled,” read the decision.

National Post files

National Post filesGaya pleaded guilty after being arrested in Newmarket, Ontario.

Gaya became radicalized after fellow students accused Islam of encouraging suicide bombings, prompting him to read up on his religion to argue in its defence.

Instead, shortly after joining McMaster University’s Muslim Student Association, he was recruited into a terrorist cell seeking to murder civilians in order to pressure the Canadian government into pulling troops out of Afghanistan.

According to psychologists with Corrections Canada, Gaya has a 20 per cent chance of committing an indictable offence within the next three years. His “reintegration potential” was assessed at “medium.”

You have clearly demonstrated your denunciation of radicalization and you presented as being very genuine in this regard

In a May, 2014 report, Gaya was deemed by a psychologist to be “at least in the moderate range for general and violent recidivism.”

Nevertheless, Thursday’s parole decision said it was “evident” that Gaya had begun to abandon his extremist ideology.

“You now understand that your extremist views and actions are contrary to the true meaning of Islam,” it read.

As a condition of his release, is barred from using any device that can access the Internet. He is also required to participate in religious counselling with a federally approved Imam in order to “deal with religious extremism.”

Full parole was denied, noted Thursday’s decision, since Gaya’s original crime was a “very serious offence that put the public safety of all Canadians at risk.”

During the 2015 federal election, Gaya was pegged to be the first Canadian-born citizen to be deported under a new law stripping Canadian citizenship from those convicted of terrorist offences.

Gaya would have been deported to Pakistan, despite only having lived there for a brief period as a child.

Lawyers for Gaya filed a charter challenge against the measure, although it was ultimately dropped following the defeat of the Conservative government in October.

National Post, with files from Stewart Bell

01/01/2016 21:49  By: National Post