POLITICS

Pakistani said bent on Toronto terror but lawyer calls RCMP story 'fanciful'

05/20/2015 08:42 EDT | Updated 05/20/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - A Pakistani man accused of plotting bomb attacks on downtown Toronto lied during his truncated testimony and his evidence cannot be believed, his deportation hearing was told Wednesday.

In closing submissions, government representative Jessica Lourenco called Jahanzeb Malik a terrorist sympathizer bent on committing terrorism in Canada whose testimony was "evasive and frankly ridiculous."

By contrast, she said, the undercover RCMP officer on whom the case against him rests, was honest and consistent under questioning.

However, Malik's lawyer Anser Farooq called it suspicious that the officer's secret recording equipment apparently failed during a key interaction. Farooq also noted the government provided no audio and called some of the officer's testimony "fanciful."

The government, which wants to deport him, maintains Malik, 33, is an Islamic extremist who tried to recruit the officer for a plot to bomb the U.S. consulate and financial district buildings.

"This was not a passing suggestion," said John Oliveira, Lourenco's co-counsel. "This is a person who has clearly given it a lot of thought."

In testimony at the Immigration and Refugee Board hearing earlier Wednesday, the officer said he initially knew nothing about Malik but was tasked in September with hiring him to do flooring in a "prop house" and then getting him to live there.

The agent testified how Malik repeatedly expressed support for al-Qaida, and played videos showing Islamic State atrocities, such as mass executions and beheadings.

Malik told him the killings were justified given western attacks on Muslims in the Middle East and Canada was complicit in those attacks, the officer testified.

"Any terrorist action would be justified in Canada," the agent said Malik told him.

"He said there are no civilians in Canada, only enemies, because all Canadians pay tax, and the tax dollars are used to buy the planes that are sent to Syria and Iraq, and are used to fund the military."

In one conversation, the officer said Malik was puzzled at the outpouring of shock and grief that followed last year's murder of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the national war memorial in Ottawa.

"How come that the public feels sorry for one fallen soldier but they don't care about the women and children that their soldiers killed in Afghanistan," the witness said Malik asked.

"He said, 'You shouldn't be surprised that something like this is happening'."

On Oct. 28, 2014, Malik asked the officer, who pretended to be a veteran of the 1990s civil war in Bosnia, by writing on a piece of paper if he knew how to make explosives.

When wrote back that he needed target specifics to calculate the explosives required, Malik responded, "American embassy, financial district, Bay Street," the officer testified.

After the exchange, the agent said, Malik burned the paper on the stove.

The officer also said his secret recording device somehow failed during the interaction. After that, he said he began carrying two devices, both of which failed on another date, again without explanation.

The officer, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, said he was unaware some of what Malik told him wasn't true — for example, that he had participated in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in 2012 when he was not in Libya at the time.

Even so, the agent said the fabrications would not alter his view the man was bent on committing terrorism.

The government argues Malik did go to Libya to receive military training at an al-Qaida base.

Malik, who has been detained since his arrest in March, watched the proceedings via video link from a prison in Lindsay, Ont.

He testified earlier this month that he went to Libya to teach English but later refused to answer any further questions.

Presiding board member, Andy Laut, said he would give his decision in writing as soon as possible.