|Parent(s)||Tariq Abdelhaleem (father)|
|Criminal charge||2006 Toronto terrorism arrests|
A database engineer, Muhammad Shareef Abdelhaleem is one of 17 people initially arrested in the 2006 Toronto terrorism arrests. He is alleged to have plotted coordinated bombing attacks against targets in southern Ontario.
His father, Tariq Abdelhaleem, is an engineer on contract with Atomic Energy of Canada, and is well known for his own writings as an Imam, including a fatwa against watering down the message of Islam. He was interviewed prior to his son's arrests, denouncing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tariq was among those who posted bail for security certificate detainee Mohammad Mahjoub earlier in the year. At Abdelhaleem’s trial it was revealed that his father had issued a fatwa for the group declaring the attacks “acceptable”.
Abdelhaleem was a 30-year-old computer programmer at the time of his arrest, and drove a metallic blue BMW convertible. He underwent open-heart surgery just two months before the arrest. He was by far the wealthiest of the group and had sought information on offshore bank accounts.
His father has visited Abdelhaleem every Saturday morning for three years, but lies to his youngest daughter and explains her older brother is in a "hospital" and behind plexiglass for all visits because he's contagious.
Actions leading to arrest
Amara gave him money and Abdelhaleem then gave C$2,000 to Shaher Elsohemy who was a former friend now police mole, which the Elsohemy claimed was a "downpayment" on ammonium nitrate. When police stormed his house, he reported that he was mostly concerned with making sure the seven stray cats who lived in his home were alright.
Throughout the trial Abdelhaleem maintained that he was merely a middle-man keeping contact between ringleader Zakaria Amara and mole Shaher Elsohemy. His lawyer has stated that the accusations against his client were due to an old friend seeking revenge through his connections to the police. In his testimony Elsohemy stated that Abdelhaleem was initially opposed to the plan but changed his mind when he realized he could benefit financially from the attack. He had also contributed various suggestions about the plan such as spreading out the timing of the attack to increase the terror factor. This was opposed by Amara who wanted to inflict “maximum casualties”. On January 21, 2010, Abdelhaleem was found guilty of plotting to bomb financial, intelligence and military targets. He was not convicted however as the defense was awarded a stay of proceedings in order to look into whether or not the case could be considered as entrapment. The argument of entrapment was dismissed by the courts, citing "virtually no evidence" to support the claims as well as Abdelhaleem’s erratic and bizarre behavior in the while on the stand. On March 4, 2011, Ontario Superior Court Justice Fletcher Dawson sentenced Abdelhaleem to life in prison.
In 2009 and 2010 playwright Catherine Frid wrote a play, Homegrown, about a friendship that developed between herself and Shareef. The play premiered at Theatre Passe Muraille on August 5, 2010. The play stirred controversy because it portrayed Shareef sympathetically.
Theatre critic Richard Ouzounian did not recommend the play to the general public. He commented that it was "Definitely not a play that supports or romanticizes terrorism, but one that raises some interesting questions about the government’s purchase of undercover “moles” to entrap and deliver so-called terrorists, often at prices well into the millions."
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- Freeze, Colin. "Canada's imprisoned bomb-plotters say their isolation does not fit the crime ." The Globe and Mail. Wednesday August 31, 2011. Updated Thursday September 6, 2012. Retrieved on August 6, 2016.
Don Peat (2010-07-30). "Sympathy for the devil". Toronto Sun. Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
Homegrown’s playwright Catherine Frid says the play is a “sympathetic portrayal” of Abdelhaleem, not of a terrorist. “He wasn’t planning to blow up Bay and Front Street with a truck bomb,” Frid said. “People don’t know the whole story behind Shareef’s conviction, I’m not speaking for all the Toronto 18, I’m just focusing on the one person I met and whose case I followed and I’m telling that story.”
Richard Ouzounian (2010-08-06). "Homegrown: Two wrongs don't make for a very good play". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2010-08-10.
Definitely not a play that supports or romanticizes terrorism, but one that raises some interesting questions about the government’s purchase of undercover “moles” to entrap and deliver so-called terrorists, often at prices well into the millions.