In any case, I chose to relate this article about a Toronto bomb plotter to JMC Careless’s (seriously, his last name is Careless) “Limited Identities” thesis so I could practice my historical analysis skills.
Current Events and Historical Theories
On Thursday, September 3 2009, Toronto bomb plotter Saad Khalid was sentence to 14 years in prison for his part in the Toronto 18 terrorist plot which planned to bomb targets in downtown Toronto. An Ontario judge called the offences “the most vile form” of crime because they are not “a spur-of-the-moment offence”. He had already pleaded guilty in May 2009 to one count of participating in a militant plot with the intention of causing an explosion.
According to Khalid, his motivation behind participating with 17 other like-minded individuals was due to Canada’s foreign police and military activities in Afghanistan. He claimed that this severe disagreement was the main reason for his participating in the bomb plot, since he told the court that he was “not a lunatic who is hell-bent on destruction of Western civilization”.
In this news article, CBC covers the conclusion of the trial of Mr Khalid, which revolved around his participation in the Toronto bomb plot. The article echoes some of the points that JMS Careless made in the “Limited Identities” theory about Canada: Canada is made up of distinctive and diverse communities; regional and ethnic identities form these communities; and individuals emphasize their regional and ethnic loyalties, resulting in a weak national identity. In this article, Khalid explores all these points.
First of all, Canada is a multicultural society with a diverse number of communities, and Mr Khalid was a member of many communities. He lived in Toronto, studied at McMaster University and most prominently joined a community of ‘terrorists’ with similar ideological and perhaps ethnic backgrounds. However, these communities did not just pop into existence without a reason. Typically, people identify strongly with their regional and ethnic identities. Toronto and McMaster University fall into the category of the former, while the Toronto 18 group falls into the latter. Evidently, he was a member of multiple communities, but not all of them had the same value in his mind. From the viewpoint of this article, the most important community to him was the Toronto 18 group. He joined because he wanted to defend the people in Afghanistan from Canadian intervention, which could be interpreted as ethnically motivated. Furthermore, he did not join people from a wide variety of geographical areas—presumably, they are all from southern Ontario, since their main target was Toronto. In essence, his participation in this plot was at least somewhat motivated by his ethnic and regional identities.
Clearly, he regarded his regional and ethnic identities to be more important to him than his Canadian identity, judging by the targets that the Toronto 18 group planned to attack. Although he was just one member in a small group that planned to participate in such a “vile attack”, it shows that Canadians are divided in many ways, including regional and ethnic identities, and that the national identity of Canada is in some cases being superseded by communities. Therefore, Careless’s theory appears to be applicable to this case.
A man who pleaded guilty in the so-called Toronto 18 plot aimed at bombing targets in the city’s downtown was sentenced Thursday to 14 years in prison, but was credited with seven years for time already served.
Saad Khalid admitted in a Brampton, Ont., court that he was a member of a group that planned to commit a “despicable crime” by detonating bombs outside the Toronto Stock Exchange and the headquarters of CSIS, Canada’s spy agency.
Khalid, who was arrested in 2006 while unloading what he believed was at least two tonnes of ammonium nitrate, pleaded guilty in May 2009 to one count of participating in a militant plot with the intention of causing an explosion.
The 23-year-old former university student has already served 39 months in pre-trial custody.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Bruce Durno said he accepted Khalid was not the leader of the group but his degree of responsibility “remains fairly high.”
“This was not a spur-of-the-moment offence,” Durno said, calling terrorist offences “the most vile form” of criminal activity.
Russell Silverstein, Khalid’s defence lawyer, said his client accepts the sentence and has no plans to appeal.
“Is he happy? Yes, he is content with the outcome,” Silverstein told CBC News.
He said Khalid will be eligible for parole after serving one-third of his sentence, but added that there is not a long legal history in Canada of people being convicted of terrorism and later seeking parole.
Durno ruled that parole eligibility would be up to the National Parole Board since Khalid is a first-time offender.
‘I am not a lunatic’
In his appeal for clemency last week, Khalid said his participation in the plot arose from his disagreement with Canada’s foreign policy and military mission in Afghanistan.
“I am not a lunatic who is hell-bent on destruction of Western civilization,” he told the court.
The Crown had called for an 18- to 20-year sentence, but the defence suggested that time already served in jail and a two-year prison term would be appropriate.
Originally, 17 men and youths were arrested in the Toronto area in June 2006 and detained following an investigation by CSIS. An 18th person was arrested in August of that year.
Khalid is among 17 who were charged with several terrorism-related offences. The charges were later stayed or dropped against some of the accused.
One suspect, a minor at the time of his arrest, was convicted in September 2008 of conspiring to bomb several targets. He was the first person convicted under Canada’s terrorism laws.
He was sentenced in May 2009 to 2½ years in prison. The judge then freed him, granting him credit for time already spent in custody.
“Toronto bomb plotter Khalid gets 14 years”. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
3 September 2009. 3 September 2009