Though alleged terrorist John Nuttall initially spoke of firing homemade rockets at the B.C. parliament buildings, his plan changed after the Boston Marathon bombings in mid-April 2013, according to an undercover RCMP officer who befriended the man accused in a 2013 Canada Day terror plot.
The police operative, who can’t be identified, began his testimony Tuesday at the trial of Nuttall and his wife Amanda Korody in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.
He said Nuttall told him pressure-cooker bombs like those used in Boston (where three people were killed and about 280 injured) would be cheaper and simpler than the militant Islamic Hamas-style rockets he’d talked about prior.
The officer told the 14-member jury he befriended Nuttall at a gas station he frequented on Scott Road and 96 Avenue in Surrey, presenting himself as an Arab businessman who was searching for his niece.
Nuttall was “ready to help,” the undercover agent testified, and the two spent about two hours together, with Nuttall showing him where teens would hang out.
There was no mention in court as to why Nuttall became a target by police investigators.
The officer testified Nuttall almost immediately began sharing his extreme Islamic views and plans to perform jihad, quoting deceased terrorist leader Osama bin Laden on their first meeting. The officer said he warned Nuttall about his openness, reminding him they’d only just met and questioning how he knew he could trust him.
Nuttall and Korody are accused of plotting to set off bombs outside the Victoria legislature buildings on Canada Day 2013, when thousands of people would be there to celebrate the nation’s birthday. They are charged with making or possessing an explosive device, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, conspiring to commit murder and knowingly facilitating terrorist activity. They have pleaded not guilty.
The RCMP witness told the jury he met with Nuttall, and later, Korody, several times between March and June 2013 and that he never had to encourage Nuttall to talk about his “plan.”
The officer said Nuttall talked about the men accused in the Boston bombings, as well as those accused in the Via Rail bomb plot in Ontario. He was upset, said the witness, because imams at local mosques were critical of the accused instead of supporting them.
Korody, the officer testified, wasn’t around much initially but became more involved as the plot proceeded.
The trial began last Monday (Feb. 2), but was adjourned until today (Tuesday).
The undercover witness is the first to be called by the Crown, which contends Nuttall and Korody made and planted pressure-cooker bombs in two garden planters outside the parliament buildings, timed to go off at 10 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.
Police made sure they didn’t detonate (by providing fake plastic explosives) and Nuttall and Korody were arrested at a hotel in Abbotsford on July 1, 2013.
Though they called themselves “al-Quaeda Canada,” the Crown doesn’t believe the pair had support, or that any terrorist groups even knew about them.
The trial continues. It’s expected to last more than four months.