BRITISH COLUMBIA

Accused B.C. terrorists were former drug addicts who struggled with money: trial

02/12/2015 02:36 EST | Updated 04/14/2015 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - A couple accused of plotting an attack at the British Columbia legislature were self-described "heroin junkies" who struggled with money and seemed just as worried about the fate of their cat as they were about finding bomb parts, their trial has heard.

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody are charged with four terrorism-related offences. Their trial has revealed new details about a couple the Crown alleges conspired to kill and maim countless bystanders on Canada Day in the name of radical Islam.

Much of the Crown's case relies on RCMP video and audio recordings, which were collected during an undercover operation that ensnared the husband and wife in March 2013 and ended with their arrest almost four months later.

In a video recorded on June 26 that year, Nuttall explains to an undercover officer that he and Korody are former drug addicts who take methadone. He expresses concern about what would happen if they run out of methadone before Canada Day, which is five days away.

"I just don't want to be liabilities when we run out of that stuff," Nuttall tells the officer, who is posing as an Arab businessman helping Nuttall and Korody execute their plan.

"Before Islam, we were heroin junkies. ... I want you to know we have made a real effort to change our lives for the better to serve Allah. It's baby steps, though."

It's also clear from the videos played in B.C. Supreme Court that Nuttall and Korody had money problems.

In a recorded phone call, the officer asks Nuttall whether he has enough cash for food. In another video, Nuttall asks the officer to lend him $20. Nuttall delays buying bomb-making materials while waiting for a cheque to arrive.

The undercover officer leaves it to Nuttall and Korody to pay for supplies such as pressure cookers, wire and batteries. He also tells the couple that he will take care of acquiring either gun powder or C-4 plastic explosive to use in the bombs.

They eventually come up with the money for the pressure cookers, though they resolved to buy only one at a time over concerns that purchasing multiple pressure cookers from the same store would raise suspicion.

In the June 26 video, Nuttall and Korody both worry about how their cat will fare while they're away executing their plan, particularly if something goes wrong and they don't make it back.

"I left my cat with enough food," Nuttall tells the officer. "It depends how quick she eats it. ... I left the toilet seat up just in case (the cat runs out of water)."

At one point, Korody suggests taking the cat with them.

In the videos, Nuttall, now 40, has shaggy hair and a long beard. He is now clean shaven, with his hair cut short.

Korody, who is currently about 30, is seen in the videos wearing a hijab, a type of Muslim head covering, which she has also been wearing in court during the trial.

Nuttall and Korody are both converts to Islam, and in the videos Nuttall frequently talks about his desire to participate in "jihad" to avenge what he sees as the mistreatment of Muslims overseas.

Nuttall singles out the issue of Palestinian independence as a particular grievance.

"It's because of Canada that Palestine doesn't get Palestine Day, so why should Canada get Canada Day?" he says.

The videos have followed Nuttall and Korody through the planning process, with Nuttall listing off potential targets and methods of attack. He eventually settles on attacking the legislature with the same type of pressure-cooker bombs used at the Boston Marathon in April of that year, though he hadn't decided on where to place them until the June 26 video.

"We're planting bombs, we're not planting flowers here," says Nuttall.

"That just gave me an idea," he continues, becoming excited. "We plant them in the flower pots."

The Crown has already told the jury that Nuttall and Korody each placed bombs in planters on the legislature lawn. The RCMP ensured the bombs could not explode, the Crown has said.

Nuttall and Korody have both pleaded not guilty.

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