‘Ottawa’ $250,000 Paid to Terror Informant for Preliminary Hearings That Were Never Needed
The RCMP informant who was paid at least $550,000 to befriend and spy on suspected members of an ISIL network in Ottawa was also paid an additional $250,000 in advance to testify at preliminary hearings that never happened, the Ottawa Citizen has learned.
The informant, a Muslim convert originally from New Brunswick, went from working the register at an Ottawa paintball shop to wearing a wire against suspected Jihadis — including Vanier twins Ashton and Carlos Larmond, their paintball buddy Suliman Mohamed and suspected ISIL fighter Khadar Khalib.
The RCMP intensified their sights on Ashton Larmond, then his twin brother and later Mohamed after he messaged John Maguire, the Kemptville man who appeared in an ISIL video declaring religious war on Canada. The online messages were intercepted by police and later reviewed by the Citizen.
The Facebook messages make it clear that the friends had lost track of one another, with Larmond asking Maguire where he’s been. When Maguire tells Larmond he’s in Syria, the twin brother replies that he’s wanted to make the same trip for awhile but visas and permits were a hassle and the Mounties and CSIS were shaking him down.
In the August 2013 messages, Maguire responds that he didn’t worry about paperwork and simply hopped on a plane.
RCMP investigators firmly believe that Maguire and Ashton built a friendship based on their extremist views of Islam, and allegedly shared a desire to wage terrorism abroad.
The police theory is that Ashton Larmond started counselling and financing plans for terror abroad after he couldn’t do it himself because his passport had been revoked.
His brother, Carlos Larmond, was arrested at a Montreal airport Jan. 9, 2015 after he checked in for a flight overseas in an alleged plot to leave the country to wage jihad. Ashton was cuffed the same day, and their paintball buddy Mohamed later that weekend.
The suspects were presented as a terror ‘cluster’ by the RCMP, and all have remained in jail awaiting trial.
Their trials were delayed earlier this year when federal prosecutors used what is known as a direct indictment to send the trials straight to trial in front of a jury in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
It means the trials, originally scheduled for October in lower court, will now start in May 2017.
It also means the accused didn’t get the option of choosing whether to be tried by judge-alone or by jury.
And it means that preliminary hearings — held to see if there’s enough evidence to warrant a trial — won’t happen because the cases are going straight to trial.
So the prized RCMP informant ended up getting money for nothing — $250,000 in cash to testify at preliminary hearings that are no longer happening.
The RCMP terrorism case is anchored in wiretap and body-wire evidence, with their well-paid informant recording hours of key conversations.
One of those conversations was on Oct. 22, 2014, the day Michael Zehaf-Bibeau brought home-grown terrorism to Ottawa, first at the National War Memorial and later at Parliament Hill. According to secretly recorded conversations obtained by the RCMP informant, Ashton Larmond bragged that he had “bigger plans.”
The Citizen has also learned that police were first alerted to Ashton Larmond on Sept. 1, 2013, when his mother turned him in. She called Ottawa police to report that her son allegedly had plans to go to Syria and fight for ISIL, the jihadist movement that aspires to establish an Islamic caliphate across parts of Iraq and Syria.
Ottawa police say they called the Mounties immediately and his mother was interviewed hours later. In the interview, she said her son had purchased an airline ticket to Istanbul and had already packed his bags.
It would be 17 days before Passport Canada revoked Ashton Larmond’s papers. In an interview later with RCMP, Ashton Larmond said he was upset that he couldn’t travel overseas.
In a Feb. 5, 2014 interview with the Mounties, Larmond said his mother was confused and said he was in fact going to live in Saudi Arabia after backpacking in Turkey.
Larmond also told the RCMP that he’d never harm a Canadian citizen or anyone else because that would be against Islam, and that he’s only allowed to defend himself.
“I’m not an idiot like the Toronto 18 guys,” he told them.
His brother, Carlos Larmond, booked a Jan. 9, 2015 flight to India via Frankfurt departing from Montreal. He paid cash for a return flight but purchased cancellation insurance.
In the days leading to his flight, Carlos Larmond sold most of his stuff on kijiji.ca, including a dirt bike and car.
None of the terrorism-related charges against the accused jihadis has been proven in court and all are pleading not guilty.
The RCMP declined to comment for this story.