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Mastermind of Al Qaeda-inspired terror plot jailed to life

world Updated: Jan 19, 2010 14:41 IST

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The mastermind of a failed Al Qaeda-inspired homegrown terror plot to "cripple" Canada by setting off truck bombs in front of the country's main stock exchange, a military base and even Parliament House has been sentenced to life.

Zakaria Amara, who planned a series of bomb attacks intended to "cripple" Canada, bowed his head as Justice Bruce Durno issued the verdict yesterday on what he called an "exceptional" case.

24-year-old Jordanian-born Canadian citizen Amara had pleaded guilty in October to co-leading a militant group dubbed as the "Toronto 18", consist of 18 Muslims, mostly of Pakistani origin. The targets included a military base also.

"The offences have left a permanent scar in this area. Had the bombs exploded, that scar would have been even more severe," Judge Durno said.

Amara will be eligible for parole in six-and-a-half years. He pleaded guilty late last year to leading the 2006 bomb plot that targeted the Toronto Stock Exchange, a downtown CSIS site and a military base between Toronto and Ottawa.

Employed as a gas station attendant, Amara organised a terrorist training camp at a rural property north of Toronto and urged recruits to aid his planned jihad.

Months later, the terrorist group splintered, and a breakaway faction began to talk of storming the Parliament.

Amara's plan involved packing three rented U-Haul trucks with explosives -- made with metal chips to cause more deaths -- and detonating them at the three targets on a mid-November morning in 2006.