VANCOUVER - A man accused of plotting to bomb the British Columbia parliament buildings on Canada Day with his wife quoted terrorist Osama bin Laden and spoke of plans to fire homemade rockets at the provincial legislature, an undercover RCMP officer told the couple's trial Tuesday.
But the officer, who befriended John Nuttall by posing as an Arab businessman, said the man changed tack after the Boston Marathon bombing, concluding the pressure-cooker explosives used in that attack would be easier.
Nuttall and his common-law spouse, Amanda Korody, were arrested in the Vancouver area in July 2013 after they were targeted by an undercover RCMP operation that lasted several months. They are charged with four terrorism-related offences.
The officer, who can't be identified due to a publication ban, told the trial he was tasked with making contact with Nuttall in the winter of 2013, though the trial has yet to hear what brought Nuttall and Korody to the RCMP's attention.
The officer said he approached Nuttall in early March at a gas station near the couple's home in Surrey, south of Vancouver, and told the man he needed help finding a niece who had left home because of her family's conservative Muslim views.
Nuttall quickly agreed to show the officer around the neighbourhood, addressing him as "brother," the officer testified. The trial has heard Nuttall and Korody were recent converts to Islam and the Crown alleges they espoused radical views about the Muslim faith.
The officer said during that first meeting, Nuttall recited a quote from bin Laden, the former leader of al-Qaida
"He didn't say the name, but he wanted to see if I could recognize," the officer told the jury. "I told him, 'Yes, I know who said that.' He was so happy I knew what he was talking about."
In a subsequent meeting, the officer testified, Nuttall said he had already devised a plan to use rockets to attack the provincial legislature in Victoria, using a type of homemade rocket used by Hamas in the Middle East. He talked about the rocket plan on several occasions, the officer said, and listed supplies he would need, such as a specialized metal cutter.
That plan changed, the officer said, in April, when two brothers used pressure-cooker bombs to attack the Boston Marathon.
"What did he say of the Boston plan?" asked Crown counsel Peter Eccles.
"The Boston plan was cheaper, was easy to do and it was faster," the officer replied.
The officer said he told Nuttall several times that he could quit at any time, but he said Nuttall pressed on, often discussing his plans to attack the legislature or his views about radical Islam without prompting or encouragement.
The Crown alleges Nuttall and Korody plotted to attack the B.C. legislature over what they perceived as the mistreatment of Muslims abroad, particularly at the hands of the Canadian military.
The Crown has told the jury they will see video and photographic evidence that shows Nuttall and Korody building three bombs and then travelling to Victoria, where they each placed bombs on the lawn of the legislature hours before Canada Day festivities.
Nuttall and Korody have both pleaded not guilty.
Their defence lawyers have told the jury that the case outlined by the Crown on the first day of the trial left out important context, particularly about the RCMP's involvement, which they plan to highlight later.