Fahim Ahmad was an average teen, but after Sept. 11 “everything changed,” he says.

Questions surfaced about his Islamic faith, which he rarely practised, and of his homeland, Afghanistan, which he barely remembered.

His parents juggled multiple jobs and were rarely home, so Ahmad turned to a Mississauga mosque for the answers.

He became increasingly religious, surfing Islamist websites where Muslim teens “feeling similar alienation from school and society” talked of violent jihad.

Increasingly fanatic, he followed a downward spiral that culminated with his arrest in June 2006 for being the ringleader of a homegrown terror cell, the so-called Toronto 18.

In a six-page letter to Justice Fletcher Dawson, who will sentence Ahmad today, the 26-year-old says he had fallen into a “fantasy world” and “never intended to harm anyone” when he plotted a series of attacks, including the storming of Parliament Hill.

The document was among nine letters, written by family and friends, asking the court to show leniency, saying Ahmad has abandoned his violent views. Even Mubin Shaikh, a police agent who infiltrated the group and testified against Ahmad, wrote to the judge and described Ahmad as someone who “talked a big game but was short on actions.”

According to a psychological report, submitted by the defence, Dr. Julian Gojer says Ahmad “wishes to make amends for his actions by counselling youth who may be misled like him.”