POLITICS

Accused B.C. terrorist laments missed chance to kill soldiers, families: trial

03/26/2015 02:53 EDT | Updated 05/26/2015 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - The man accused of plotting to bomb the B.C. legislature was recorded lamenting a missed chance to murder hundreds of soldiers and their loved ones at a military homecoming celebration, a B.C. Supreme Court jury has heard.

"I could have killed 225 Canadian soldiers coming back from Afghanistan, and all their families," says John Nuttall about an event at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt in Victoria, B.C., that supposedly took place in early May 2013.

"All I would have needed is two sniper rifles and some grenades. Imagine the damage I could have done," he says, gesturing excitedly to the undercover officer in a covert police video taken in May 2013.

"Me and my wife, we could have done them all in. It would have gone down in history."

There was no indication that a ship returned to the Vancouver Island base at that time.

Fewer than two months later, Nuttall and his wife Amanda Korody were arrested for allegedly planting three homemade pressure-cooker bombs on the lawn of the B.C. legislature on Canada Day.

In audio and video recordings taken in May of that year and played for the jury on Thursday, Nuttall tells the undercover officer of applying alongside his brother to join the Canadian military years earlier and feeling "dejected" after he was refused admission for health reasons.

"Right there I felt like my country didn't care for me at all," he says. "This is where it all started, my search for what I wanted in life."

Despite having referred to him as "habibi," or my beloved in Arabic, Nuttall has repeatedly expressed doubt about trusting the undercover officer, who was posing as an Arab businessman.

Nuttall even brought a hidden weapon to a meeting because he said he feared for his life.

In a video played for a jury, Nuttall sheepishly tells the officer that he took along a marble gun — a paintball gun modified to shoot marbles — because he worried he had brought too much attention to their operation and would have to be killed.

"I'm afraid of the people you're hanging out with and that they thought I was a liability, (that) I was too much heat on you guys and you should just take me out," he says, sitting in the front passenger seat in a pickup truck parked near his home in Surrey, B.C.

The officer squeezes Nuttall's shoulder as he reassures him that would never happen and that they must trust each other.

Nuttall promises the officer he will come up with a better terrorist plan after learning the Via Rail passenger train he previously proposed to hijack has not run for years.

"I need to learn how to make explosives," says Nuttall.

"I'm here to help you make it happen," says the officer. "That's my role."

In a phone conversation, the recent Muslim convert tells the undercover officer he has been getting to know "the Lord Jesus Christ" but that he needs more spiritual guidance and invites the officer to accompany him to Christian church.

On Thursday, Nuttall's defence lawyer Marilyn Sandford pressed the officer about why he did not encourage Nuttall to seek out spiritual direction from a minister or priest.

"Mr. Nuttall is not looking for a Christian spiritual leader," testified the officer. "Mr. Nuttall is talking in code. I'm 100 per cent sure of that."

Nuttall feared his phone conversations were being wiretapped, said the undercover agent, so he would speak clandestinely of spiritual guidance in reference to his desire to access radical Islamic websites.

Nuttall and Korody have pleaded not guilty to four terrorism-related charges.

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