Canadian man is first to plead guilty in “Toronto 18″ plot to bomb nuclear plants

Canadian pleads guilty in “Toronto 18″ bomb plot

TORONTO — A Canadian man has pleaded guilty to his role in an alleged plan to bomb nuclear power plants and a building housing Canada’s spy service.

Lawyer Russell Silverstein said Saad Khalid, 22, pleaded guilty Monday to a charge of intending to cause an explosion, but a judge banned publication of the plea until late Tuesday.

Khalid is the first to plead guilty since the 2006 arrest of the “Toronto 18,” a group prosecutors accuse of planning to truck-bomb nuclear power plants and the spy building. The case made headlines and heightened fears in a country where many people thought they were relatively immune from terrorist strikes.

A publication ban prevents the details of the case against Khalid from being published, in order to prevent prejudice against the others charged.

“Pleading guilty is sometimes the best route to a just result, and those are the circumstances in this case,” Silverstein said.

Khalid could be called to testify against the others.

One other man in the group has been found guilty. Seven have had their charges either withdrawn or stayed, but a judge in 2006 imposed a restriction on ongoing bail hearings that prohibits journalists from explaining why.

The trials of nine other adults, including the alleged ringleaders, have not started.

The suspects face charges including participating in a terrorist group, receiving training from a terrorist group, providing training and intending to cause an explosion that could cause serious bodily harm or death.

Authorities announced the arrest of the 18 after they allegedly tried to obtain three tons of ammonium nitrate, three times what was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

Police accused them of plotting terror attacks in Canada and said they were inspired by al-Qaida.

A judge found the first youth that went to trial guilty of knowingly participating in a terrorist group.

Khalid’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 22. Silverstein said he’ll argue that there were different degrees of involvement in the case. Khalid has been in jail since his arrest.

The prosecution’s star witness in the first trial testified that he infiltrated and spied on the alleged terror cell members before their arrests.

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