While police say they were “inspired by Al Qaeda,” others suggest two Canadians planning to bomb a busy Canada Day celebration this week were acting on their own, mysterious motivations.
The couple – John Stewart Nuttall, 38, and Amanda Marie Korody, 28 or 29 – made a brief court appearance on Tuesday and were held without bail, CBC News reported.
Local police made the arrest after receiving tips from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, saying at no time did the bombs pose any threat to the public. CSIS was tracking the couple since February and used technology to render the bombs “inert.”
They planned to plant Boston Marathon-style bombs near the Victoria, British Columbia, legislature on July 1 as 40,000 people gathered to celebrate Canada’s independence day.
Police showed off pictures of a pressure cooker containing rusted nails and others to be filled with nuts, bolts and washers. The RCMP said the suspects were “self-radicalized.”
“While the RCMP believes this threat was real, at no time was the security of the public at risk,” RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia told Agence France-Presse.
“These individuals were inspired by Al-Qaeda ideology. Our investigation demonstrated that this was a domestic threat, without international linkages.”
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What motivated the plot seems much less sinister.
The RCMP said they had access to an online Al Qaeda magazine, yet they lived in squalor relying on social assistance, another CBC report said.
Nuttall’s brother died from a roadside bomb blast while serving the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan five years ago, but he also has a lengthy criminal record for drug and property offences.
Court records from 2003 called him a reformed “hard-core” drug user, The Toronto Star said. He had apparently converted to Islam, while other media outlets called him an enforcer who collected drug debts.
He played guitar in death metal bands with song titles that professed Satanism.
Little is known about Korody other than she was a talented musician raised in central Canada before moving west to Vancouver.
A family member told The Star that she fell into the drug culture after leaving southern Ontario; a CBC reporter who toured their apartment saw Methadone bottles throughout.
Their next court appearances are scheduled for early next week.
A former Canadian spy, Michel Juneau-Katsuya, told CBC the pair likely has no connection to Islamic extremists.
“’Inspired from Al Qaeda’ I think is misleading,” the ex-CSIS agent said. “I don’t think we will discover that they had anything to do at all with Al Qaeda, because the indicators are not there.”
Regardless, Canadians are now coming to grips with a harsher reality when it comes to terrorism.
Two Canadian citizens were arrested earlier this year for allegedly planning to bomb a train between Toronto and New York.
Also, two young Canadians were among an extremist group that attacked a gas plant and killed 37 hostages this January.
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