A Canadian man linked to al Qaida was yesterday convicted of helping the British fertiliser plot bombers.
Momin Khawaja was the first person charged under Canada’s post-September 11 anti-terrorism law and his case was considered to be the first major test of it.
Khawaja, born in Pakistan, collaborated with the group of Britons in the 2004 plan to attack London’s Ministry of Sound nightclub, the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent and electrical and gas networks. He will be sentenced next month.
“Momin Khawaja was aware of the group’s purposes, and whether he considered them terrorism or not, he assisted the group in many ways in the pursuit of its terrorist objective,” Justice Douglas Rutherford wrote in his judgment.
“It matters not whether any terrorist activity was actually carried out.”
Prosecutors described him as an extremist who, along with conspirators in Britain, was determined to wreak havoc.
Although he pleaded not guilty to all charges, his lawyer Lawrence Greenspon admitted that Khawaja created a remote-control device for setting off explosives. But Mr Greenspon insisted it was meant for use against military targets in Afghanistan — not for the home-made fertiliser bomb being constructed by the plotters in London.
His five co-conspirators were convicted in London last year and jailed for life.
Judge Rutherford convicted Khawaja on five charges of financing and facilitating terrorism.
He also found him guilty on two criminal charges related to the remote control device, but not guilty to the terrorism parts of those charges because there was no direct evidence that Khawaja knew the device was to be used in attacks, or that he had direct knowledge of the plot.
Mr Greenspon called the ruling a victory, saying the charges on which Khawaja was convicted were the less serious ones.
“The prosecution fundamentally was directed at his involvement in the London bombing. The judge has acquitted him on that,” he said.
However Wesley Wark, a University of Toronto professor and national security expert, said: “The reality is that this was a defeat for his client. His client faces life imprisonment.”
Khawaja will find out his fate when he is sentenced next month.