VANCOUVER - A couple from British Columbia who styled themselves the sole members of "al-Qaida Canada" built pressure-cooker bombs and planted them on the grounds of the provincial legislature hours before Canada Day festivities, the Crown alleged Monday.
The bombs did not explode — undercover RCMP officers ensured they were inert — but John Nuttall and Amanda Korody intended to kill and maim an untold number of victims on July 1, 2013, in the name of radical Islam, Crown counsel Peter Eccles said at the start of a lengthy terrorism trial.
"Planting IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on the front lawn of the parliament building set to go off in the middle of Canada Day activities is a terrorist activity," Eccles told the jury hearing the case.
Nuttall and Korody have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to commit murder, conspiring to place explosives on behalf of a terrorist group, facilitating terrorist activity and possessing explosives on behalf of a terrorist group.
Nuttall, 40, who wore a dark suit jacket, smiled during the hearing and occasionally turned to smile or wave at his mother and another relative in the public gallery. Korody, who is about 30, wore a green shawl and mostly looked down as the Crown outlined the allegations.
They were arrested in July 2013 after an undercover operation that began months earlier.
An undercover RCMP officer met Nuttall in early March at a gas station near the couple's Vancouver-area home, said Eccles. The officer posed as an Arab businessman searching for his niece and he enlisted Nuttall's help.
Before long, Eccles said, Nuttall told the officer he was a recent convert to Islam who considered himself part of the mujahedeen, or holy warriors, and that he was behind enemy lines.
Nuttall later expressed his support for the bombing of the Boston Marathon, which happened in April of that year, and he was particularly interested in the type of bomb that was used, said Eccles.
The plan to target the legislature took shape over the next several months, Eccles said, and many of Nuttall and Korody's interactions with the undercover officers and each other were captured on video.
In late June, as the couple worked to assemble three bombs in a hotel room in Delta, south of Vancouver, the couple were captured on video in a private conversation, said Eccles.
"We are gong to be listening to the news and see the aftermath," Nuttall was quoted as telling Korody. "This is going to rock the world. ... al-Qaida Canada, that's who we are."
In the days leading up to Canada Day, the pair donned masks and made a video outlining their plan, the court heard.
In her taped segment, Eccles said Korody addressed her "brothers and sisters of the mujahedeen," telling them: "If you have a stone, throw it; if you have a bomb, drop it."
Shortly after, they gave their modified pressure cookers to their undercover contact, who brought the bombs to an RCMP facility to be filled with harmless putty and a small amount of real explosive, said Eccles. The bombs could not have exploded, he said.
On Canada Day, Eccles said, the couple placed bombs in two planters on the legislature lawn. They were timed to explode 15 minutes apart, said Eccles.
Had they been real, the bombs would have created a 150-metre blast, said Eccles.
Nuttall's defence lawyer, Marilyn Sandford, urged the jury to listen to all of the evidence before drawing conclusions. She suggested some of the evidence the Crown alluded to on Monday was missing important context.
For example, while building the bombs, she noted Nuttall was also captured on video telling Korody that one of the undercover officers would turn into a "monster" if they didn't succeed and that they could end up "wearing cement galoshes at the bottom of the ocean."
Korody's lawyer, Mark Jette, told the jury his client was on methadone in 2013 and was suffering from stomach problems, for which she was taking large amounts of Gravol.
Jette said Korody was mostly a background character in the early stages of the plot until she was "ensnared" in the undercover operation.