Nearly two years ago, when police busted an alleged homegrown terror cell, Qayyum Abdul Jamal was portrayed as the firebrand ringleader seeking recruits for Jihad.
Today, he says he hopes to piece together a reputation left in tatters after being accused of belonging to the so-called Toronto 18, a group of men and teens who were allegedly plotting to bomb several sites around Toronto.
And he hopes to repair a life that was forever changed when he spent 17 months in jail — 13 of them in solitary confinement.
That’s why the surprise move yesterday by the government to stay terrorism-related charges against Jamal and three of his co-accused is somewhat bittersweet for the 45-year-old.
“I am innocent,” he told reporters yesterday outside a Brampton courthouse, as his wife and sons looked on. “I have nothing to do with this terrorism thing.”
His comments came on the same day the Crown effectively dropped charges against four of the 14 adult suspects netted during a massive police sweep in the summer of 2006. Three of the men were also required to sign peace bonds.
The stay in proceedings marks another setback in the government’s landmark case against the group, which has slowly been whittled down. Now there are 11 who stand accused of belonging to what was originally called an al-Qaeda inspired cell.
In addition to Jamal being cast out, so too was Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 23, and Ibrahim Aboud, 21. The trio, who signed peace bonds, were charged with participating in a terrorist group as well as training for terrorist purposes.
Yasin Abdi Mohamed, 26, was charged with participating in the group and importing firearms for the benefit of a terrorist group. He did not sign the peace bond, but had his charges stayed.