Surrey's John Nuttall and Amanda Korody in a still image taken from RCMP undercover video.

Couple convicted of terrorism exploited: lawyer

Top cop wanted B.C. terror suspects away from distraction of video games, drugs

  • Jul. 13, 2015 5:00 a.m.

By Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – The lead investigator of an RCMP sting wanted a pair of British Columbia terrorism suspects out of their home and away from the distractions of drugs and video games to keep them focused on their bomb plot, a court has heard.

Staff Sgt. Vaz Kassam testified that removing John Nuttall and Amanda Korody from “their element” would give police a better assessment of the couple’s commitment to threatening public safety.

“A person that is committed to something … will carry on with the scenario,” Kassam told B.C. Supreme Court on Monday. “However, if they’re not motivated or they don’t want to do something they’ll say, ‘Look, I’m out,’ or make up excuses.”

Last month, a jury found Nuttall and Korody guilty of planning to detonate homemade pressure-cooker explosives on the grounds of the B.C. legislature on Canada Day in 2013.

The second stage of their trial began Monday, with defence lawyers arguing the Mounties entrapped the pair over the course of a months-long undercover operation.

Korody’s lawyer Mark Jette suggested to Kassam that police removed his client and her husband from their house because otherwise “they weren’t motivated to do much of anything except play video games.”

“It sounds to me like your assessment is that if they were at home they were unfocused and unmotivated and using drugs but if you got them out of the house you might be able to motivate them to do something,” Jette said.

“I disagree,” Kassam replied. “It’s a gauge to determine what level of risk they pose.”

Kassam was appointed primary investigator in charge of the undercover file on June 24, 2013, one week before Nuttall and Korody were arrested.

He testified that when he took over the case the other officers appeared frustrated that the suspects weren’t moving forward with their bomb plot as predicted.

Kassam told the court police initially planned to detonate a staged bomb explosion in front of Nuttall and Korody “to give them an idea of the damage it could inflict,” but decided to abandon the plan “because it would have appeared a little over the top.”

Besides the unnecessary risk, he said the pair had already shown enough commitment to the plan.

Jette argued the RCMP exploited Nuttall and Korody’s vulnerabilities, including their drug addiction, poverty, social isolation and status as recent converts to Islam. He also alleged police used love, friendship, loyalty, gratitude and fear to manipulate the couple.

Nuttall and Korody were recovering heroin addicts living on welfare in a basement suite in Surrey, B.C., when police first made contact with them.

“Weren’t you concerned at all that due to the vulnerabilities of these people as you came to know them that police actions might unduly influence what they did?” Jette asked Kassam.

The average person would not talk about committing jihad, reading an al-Qaida-inspired online magazine or storming a naval base using AK-47 machine guns, Kassam said. “I believed that posed a risk to public safety and we would be remiss, the police, if we didn’t do anything.”

Court also heard Nuttall had floated a myriad of ideas for a terrorist plot, from hijacking a nuclear submarine to firing rockets and from overpowering a military base to taking train passengers hostage.

— Follow @gwomand on Twitter

Just Posted

Surrey district cop station closed by sewer backup

People seeking criminal records checks and other services can get help at any of the other stations

SURREY EVENTS GUIDE for Sept. 19 and beyond

Concerts, festivals, plays and more in our weekly calendar

Giant-Hawk name swap for Major Midget League hockey teams

League leaders last year, Valley West squad starts season on the road this weekend

ELECTION QUESTIONS: How do candidates form their opinions on transit in Surrey?

Who is on the right side of Surrey’s transit debate? That’s for voters to decide come Oct. 20.

Surrey wants BNSF to slow Crescent trains

Mayor Linda Hepner said ‘it’s the least we can do’

64 cats seized from ‘bad situation’ now in BC SPCA care

The surrender is part of an ongoing animal cruelty investigation with BC SPCA Special Constable

B.C. hockey product eyes shot at Olympic spot with China

Fletcher is one of 24 who travelled to Shenzhen, China for the first official Olympic dev camp.

Are you feeling lazy? That’s OK – it’s just science

UBC study shows that humans are hardwired to prefer being sloth-like

LETTER: Who do we blame for the tragedy of Marrisa Shen’s death?

The B.C. girl was killed in a Burnaby park last July

Competition tribunal to hear B.C.-based case on airline food starting in October

The competition commissioner argued Vancouver airport authority had exploited its market position

Trudeau says Canada wants to see ‘movement’ before signing revised NAFTA deal

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is back in Washington in search of a way to bridge divide

Seek compromise with U.S. on cannabis at border, lawyers urge Ottawa

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency sent tremors through Canada’s burgeoning cannabis sector

Young people need us to act on climate change, McKenna tells G7 ministers

Catherine McKenna led off the three-day Halifax gathering Wednesday

UPDATE: Man arrested in shooting on Abbotsford street near Aldergrove

Nobody injured in shooting, which is not believed to be related to gang conflicts

Most Read