WATCH: John Nuttall and Amanda Korody are facing four terrorism-related charges including conspiracy to commit murder. Rumina Daya explains what was revealed in court today.
VANCOUVER – A couple from British Columbia who styled themselves as 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 the morning of July 1, 2013, 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.
An indictment filed in the case says Nuttall and Korody are charged with facilitating terrorist activity. They are also charged with conspiring to commit murder, conspiring to place explosives in a public place, and possessing explosives — all on behalf of a terrorist group.
The pair was arrested in July 2013 after an undercover operation that began months earlier, when an RCMP officer met Nuttall at a gas station near the man’s home near Vancouver.
The officer posed as an Arabic businessman who was searching for his niece and he enlisted Nuttall’s help, said Eccles.
Before long, Eccles said, Nuttall told the officer that he was a recent convert to Islam and that he considered himself part of the mujahedeen, or holy warriors.
Nuttall expressed his support for the bombers behind the attack on the Boston Marathon, which happened in April of that year, and he was particularly interested in the type of bomb they used, said Eccles.
The plan to target the legislature took shape over the next several months, Eccles said, as many of Nuttall and Korody’s interactions with the undercover officers and each other was captured on video.
In late June, as the couple worked to assemble three bombs in a hotel room in Delta, south of Vancouver, the pair 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. The whole world is going to hear about this — you know that, right? … Al-Qaida Canada, that’s who we are.”
Nuttall told Korody they were “sleepers who’ve been woken,” Eccles said, though he stressed the Crown is not alleging they were part of any outside group.
Nuttall did not want a suicide mission, Eccles said, because he wanted to carry out multiple attacks.
The undercover scenario involved the couple meeting another man, also a police officer, whose role was to provide C4 plastic explosives.
The second officer required Nuttall and Korody to each convince him they were serious about carrying out the attack, after which the couple donned masks and made a video outlining their plan, said Eccles.
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.”
After the meeting, they gave the modified pressure cookers to their original undercover contact, who brought the bombs to an RCMP facility to be filled with harmless putty and a small amount of C4, 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 capable of killing an unknown number of bystanders, said Eccles.
Following today’s court appearance, Nuttall’s mother Maureen Smith says the terrorism charges are outrageous, saying the accused are “two completely sweet people who are absolutely incapable of doing such outrageous stuff.”
Nuttall and Korody have both pleaded not guilty. Their trial is expected to last about 18 weeks.
~ with files from Paula Baker and Rumina Daya