An expert on terrorism and de-radicalization said a Toronto 18 member's release on day parole could act as a benchmark for years to come.
Kent Roach, law professor and co-author of a book on Canada's anti-terrorism policy, said the string of conditions attached to Saad Gaya's day parole might serve as a template for other convicted terrorists granted some form of parole from prison.
"This is an issue that is going to reoccur over the next decade,'' he said. "Although some convicted terrorists have been sentenced to life imprisonment, many others have not.''
"The issue of whether they have been rehabilitated is something we will see more and more,'' he added.
— Global News Toronto (@globalnewsto) January 2, 2016
Gaya, now 28, is serving time after pleading guilty to participating in a plot to bomb three Toronto targets, including the Toronto Stock Exchange, in protest of Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan. The former science student at Hamilton's McMaster University was arrested in 2006 while unloading a delivery truck filled with three tonnes of bags marked ammonium nitrate fertilizer. He was originally sentenced in 2010 to 12 years in prison, and an appeal court increased that to 18 years.
On Wednesday, Gaya was denied full parole, but was granted up to six months of day parole, which will allow him to attend school and work in the community. But he must return to a community-based residential facility at night. According to the Parole Board of Canada decision obtained by The Canadian Press, Gaya plans on pursuing a master's degree.
"The issue of whether they have been rehabilitated is something we will see more and more.''
Gaya's parole is contingent on a number of factors, including mandatory religious counselling from an Imam — a Muslim religious leader — who is approved by Correctional Service of Canada.
Canada does not yet have a rehabilitation program focused on de-radicalization, said Roach, which gives him cause for concern.
In 2014, Correctional Service Canada released three inter-connected studies into the radicalization and potential de-radicalization of inmates, but Roach said the government still hasn't created a focused program to rehabilitate terrorists. "This is early days,'' he added.
He said the former Harper government's moves to prevent Imams from providing correctional services was particularly worrying.
"This is early days."
"From a security perspective, it is important to have people who have expertise and legitimacy to try to address these misreadings of Islam that may have motivated many people who have been convicted of terrorism offences in Canada.''
In its written decision, the parole board said that Correctional Service Canada did not recommend that Gaya be required to speak with an Imam for religious counselling. The board added that condition.
A representative from the board did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Further conditions of Gaya's release prevent him from associating with people he has reason to believe are involved in criminal activity. He cannot own or use a computer, or any device that can connect to the Internet.
The decision also said he must immediately report all contact with men he plans to associate with to his parole officer.
The board said Gaya has shown "tremendous insight'' into his radicalization.
In the written decision, the board said Gaya has shown remorse for his participation in the bomb plot, and has gained "tremendous insight'' into his radicalization. The decision said Gaya has already helped Muslim community groups to address the radicalization of youth.
"Others believe that Gaya can be of assistance in preventing other youth from falling into the same predicament as him,'' the decision reads.But still, the board said that full parole is "premature,'' at this time. The board said day parole is meant to prepare people serving sentences for full parole or statutory release.
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“We will never allow ourselves to be hijacked by this attempt, and we will not allow the perception to be that there is any religion in the world that condones the taking of innocent life,” said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“Islam does not allow terrorism at any cost. Islam condemns all violence and terrorism plaguing the world today. Muslims should demonstrate a love for peace and unity." -Hajj Sermon 2013
Mustafa Mashhur, General Guide, Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt; Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Pakistan; Muti Rahman Nizami, Ameer, Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, Bangladesh; Shaykh Ahmad Yassin, Founder, Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), Palestine; Rashid Ghannoushi, President, Nahda Renaissance Movement, Tunisia; Fazil Nour, President, PAS – Parti Islam SeMalaysia, Malaysia; and 40 other Muslim scholars and politicians: “The undersigned, leaders of Islamic movements, are horrified by the events of Tuesday 11 September 2001 in the United States which resulted in massive killing, destruction and attack on innocent lives. We express our deepest sympathies and sorrow. We condemn, in the strongest terms, the incidents, which are against all human and Islamic norms. This is grounded in the Noble Laws of Islam which forbid all forms of attacks on innocents. God Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an: ‘No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another’ (Surah al-Isra 17:15).” MSANews, September 14, 2001
"We condemn the criminal and terrorist act that targeted a church in Baghdad", Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told a news conference Monday. "We condemn all forms of terrorism, particularly targeting civilians. Jordan supports all efforts seeking to enhance Iraq's security," he pointed out. Judeh said King Abdullah II hd expressed his sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the victims of the attack and wished the injured a speedy recovery. -Aina.org
Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi, Qatar; Tariq Bishri, Egypt; Muhammad S. Awwa, Egypt; Fahmi Huwaydi, Egypt; Haytham Khayyat, Syria; Shaykh Taha Jabir al-Alwani, U.S.: “All Muslims ought to be united against all those who terrorize the innocents, and those who permit the killing of non-combatants without a justifiable reason. Islam has declared the spilling of blood and the destruction of property as absolute prohibitions until the Day of Judgment. … [It is] necessary to apprehend the true perpetrators of these crimes, as well as those who aid and abet them through incitement, financing or other support. They must be brought to justice in an impartial court of law and [punished] appropriately. … [It is] a duty of Muslims to participate in this effort with all possible means.” Statement of September 27, 2001.
See more statements from Muslim leaders from around the world here And here Here Also And here.