(This column originally appeared in the Toronto Sun)
Justice was served against a Canadian wannabe ISIS jihadist — but it took a U.S. court to do it.
A Mississauga man who says he was radicalized in a Canadian Islamic school was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his involvement in an ISIS plot to mass murder civilians in New York City.
Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, who was born in Kuwait and raised partially in Canada, was on his way to carrying out his gruesome plot. He travelled to New York and had already shipped bomb-making material to a fellow ISIS operative, who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
Bahnasawy was part of an ISIS cell that had a plan to detonate bombs in Times Square and on the New York City subway system, and to carry out mass shootings at concerts and restaurants throughout the city.
Their maniacal plan was thwarted; Bahnasawy was arrested and faced trial in the U.S.
Bahnasawy’s lawyer — the same lawyer who represented and befriended Omar Khadr — took a page from the Khadr playbook.
They tried to paint Bahnasawy as a victim — a mentally ill loner who suffered from a drug addiction. They also claimed that the FBI entrapped Bahnasawy through its undercover police work.
Despite these efforts, Bahnasawy was deemed mentally fit to stand trial and pleaded guilty to seven counts of terrorism. His lawyers asked that he receive a four-year sentence and counseling for drug addiction and mental health problems. Instead, he was given 40 years.
There’s no doubt that had Bahnasawy been arrested and charged in Canada, the outcome would have been very different. Just look at the B.C. Appeals Court decision this week to uphold an acquittal decision for a married couple who tried to carry out a jihadist terror attack in Canada in 2013.
Muslim converts John Nuttall and Amanda Korody built homemade bombs and planted them at a Canada Day celebration at the provincial legislature building in Victoria.
They were former heroin junkies who became Islamist fundamentalists. Thanks to a police sting operation, the bombs were recovered and the pair was arrested. Much like with Bahnasawy, the couple thought they were working with an al-Qaeda agent who turned out to be an undercover cop.
The couple faced a life sentence, and in 2015, they were convicted on terrorism charges by a jury. Later in 2015, however, the jury ruling was overturned by a judge who deemed that the RCMP had entrapped the couple during its undercover investigation.
This latest appeals court decision freed the couple, who are now out on bail.
In the U.S., hard-nosed policing is seen as a necessary step to gathering evidence against radical jihadists who are working towards plots to mass murder civilians. In Canada, increasingly, our bleeding heart judges believe this type of policing is unfair and grounds for acquittal.
In the U.S., a judge recognized that terrorists often have their own personal problems. Many of the deadliest terrorists and mass murderers have also suffered from mental health issues, drug addiction, and social isolation. That doesn’t make them any less guilty.
In Canada, too often, we fall for excuses that seek to justify radicalism and paint jihadists as victims. As a result, Canada has allowed convicted terrorists to walk free.
While the U.S. can be depended upon to combat terrorism and take the threat seriously, Canada is entrenching its reputation as a terrorist safe haven.
Candice Malcolm is the Founder of the True North.