October 21, 2015 - 1:00 PM
VANCOUVER - The RCMP brought in a new lead investigator in the 11th hour of an undercover terrorism operation because they knew he was a "closer" who could wrap up the elaborate plan, a senior Mountie has confirmed in B.C. Supreme Court.
Insp. Stephen Corcoran testified on Tuesday that Staff Sgt. Vaz Kassam joined the operation in June 2013, one week before a couple was arrested for plotting to detonate three pressure-cooker bombs around the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day.
A jury found John Nuttall and Amanda Korody guilty of terrorism earlier this year, but the couple's lawyers are in court arguing the police manipulated them into committing the crime.
"Did he ever tell you that he essentially wanted to bring in Kassam because he thought Kassam could close this thing down — in other words, he would be his closer?" asked Korody's lawyer Mark Jette about the operation commander's decision.
"I don't know in that sense, using those exact words," said Corcoran. "But in that spirit: yes."
Jette suggested earlier in the hearing that Kassam had encouraged investigators to motivate the pair to leave their home and the distractions of drugs and video games to focus them on their bomb plot.
Kassam disagreed with that notion, arguing that removing the two from their element would allow police to better assess their threat to public safety.
The original trial heard that Nuttall and Korody were recovering drug addicts living on welfare who had recently converted to Islam and wanted to avenge what they saw as Canada's mistreatment of Muslims overseas.
Jette asked Corcoran about the operation's insistence on ensuring Nuttall and Korody believed the bomb plot was not a martyrdom mission — that an escape plane had been chartered, that fake passports were in the works and that medication would be provided for the methadone-dependent pair.
"You understood that what the essence of what they were being told is that, 'You will get away and you will survive'?" asked Jette.
"Yes," Corcoran responded.
He testified he was not aware Korody had expressed a strong desire to get off drugs and that the investigation's principal undercover officer, whose name is protected by a publication ban, promised to help her to get clean and to take care of her following the getaway if she went into withdrawal.
Jette also referenced one instance during the operation when the pair came across $100 and had to decide what to do with it. Korody's suggestion to keep the cash in case of an emergency ultimately won out over Nuttall's proposal to use it to buy bomb materials.
"That's an example of the two of them coming across some personal financial resources that they might have expended in pursuit of their plan?" Jette asked, prompting agreement from Corcoran.
Nuttall and Korody sat passively in the prisoner's docket throughout the testimony. He sported a light grey blazer and closely cropped hair — a departure from his long, wiry locks visible in the undercover video played throughout the trial. She wore a dark burgundy shawl that covered her hair.
Separated by two seats, the couple stared affectionately at one another before the proceedings began. Nuttall blew a kiss to Korody a few moments before the judge entered the courtroom.
Other members of the investigative team are expected to testify later in the trial.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2015