BRITISH COLUMBIA

John Nuttall, Accused In B.C. Terror Case, Wanted Body Count Like 9/11, Trial Hears

02/10/2015 03:00 EST | Updated 04/12/2015 05:59 EDT
Felicty Don/CP
VANCOUVER - A man accused of plotting to bomb the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day with his wife lamented that the death toll from the Boston Marathon bombings wasn't high enough and instead said he wanted a body count on par with 9/11, his trial heard Tuesday.

John Nuttall and his common-law spouse, Amanda Korody, were ensnared by an RCMP undercover sting between March and July 2013, which saw an officer befriend the couple as the planned attack came together. They are charged with four terrorism-related offences.

Many of the couple's interactions with undercover officers and each other were caught on video, including a conversation between Nuttall and the officer that was recorded in June of that year.

In the video, the officer is seen driving around with Nuttall — who is wearing a leather jacket and sleeveless shirt with long hair and a shaggy beard.

Nuttall references the Boston Marathon attack, when two brothers used pressure-cooker bombs to kill and maim runners and spectators near the finish line. Nuttall shows the officer a schematic for the same type of bomb, which he found in the al-Qaida-affilated online magazine Inspire.

"They made the same one and it only killed eight people," he said, though in reality three people died in Boston.

"That's not good enough. It's small time."

Nuttall then tells the officer he is dreaming of something much bigger.

"We could have the equivalent of 9/11," he said.

"It won't be as spectacular, but the effect and the body count will be the same. ... It would be pure terrorism and it would cause the people to rethink their position of sending troops overseas to kill Muslims when they find out it was a white guy that did it."

The trial has heard Nuttall and Korody were recent converts to Islam and the Crown alleges they espoused radical views about the Muslim faith.

The jury has yet to hear what brought Nuttall and Korody to the RCMP's attention.

The undercover officer said he approached Nuttall in early March at a gas station near the couple's home in Surrey, south of Vancouver, and told the man he needed help finding a niece who had left home because of her family's conservative Muslim views.

Nuttall quickly agreed to show the officer around the neighbourhood, addressing him as "brother," the officer testified.

The officer said during that first meeting, Nuttall recited a quote from Osama bin Laden, the former leader of al-Qaida.

"He didn't say the name, but he wanted to see if I could recognize (the quote)," the officer told the jury. "I told him, 'Yes, I know who said that.' He was so happy I knew what he was talking about."

In a subsequent meeting, the officer testified, Nuttall said he had already devised a plan to use rockets to attack the provincial legislature in Victoria with a type of homemade rocket used by Hamas in the Middle East. He talked about the rocket plan on several occasions, the officer said, and listed supplies he would need, such as a specialized metal cutter.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, the officer said, Nuttall decided pressure-cooker bombs would be easier, cheaper and could be built more quickly.

The officer said he told Nuttall on several occasions that he could quit at any time, but he said Nuttall pressed on, often discussing his plans to attack the legislature or his views about radical Islam without prompting or encouragement.

The Crown has told jury members they will see video and photographic evidence showing Nuttall and Korody building three bombs and then travelling to Victoria, where they each placed devices on the lawn of the legislature hours before Canada Day festivities.

Nuttall and Korody have both pleaded not guilty.

Their defence lawyers have told the jury the case outlined by the Crown on the first day of the trial left out important context, particularly about the RCMP's involvement, which they plan to highlight later.

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