The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Accused terror suspect supported violent jihad, says Crown lawyer

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OTTAWA - Federal lawyers say a doctor of pathology from London, Ont., joined a homegrown group dedicated to supporting "violent jihad" by whatever means possible.

Khurram Syed Sher, 31, is being tried by judge alone in Ontario Superior Court.

He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiring to facilitate terrorism. The trial is expected to last a month.

Crown prosecutor Jason Wakely said Tuesday that Sher agreed with two others to raise money, send cash abroad, take paramilitary training, make and use explosives, and scout targets in Canada.

"These are just some of the means that they might pursue their overarching objective," Wakely told the court.

He laid out the case against Sher, citing evidence gathered about the alleged conspiracy through wiretaps of phone calls, listening devices and intercepted emails.

Wakely then played audio recordings of a July 20, 2010, meeting at which the three discussed various plans, allegedly including Sher's intention to arrange tactical instruction through a man he met in Pakistan who claimed to be with the Taliban.

"Sher said he asked the man to arrange training for him," Wakely told the court.

Sher transferred money to the man in 2009 and 2010, and the very fact he would send cash to such a person is indicative of his state of mind during the period, Wakely added.

The federal lawyer also said Sher provided $1,000 in support of fighters overseas before his August 2010 arrest.

Wakely said that at one point in the investigation, police covertly entered the residence of one of Sher's purported co-conspirators and seized 56 circuit boards that could be meant for "only one thing" — to build remote-control devices to set off bombs.

Police replaced the circuit boards with identical, non-functioning replicas, he added.

Sher, a graduate of Montreal's McGill University, worked as an anatomical pathologist at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital in St. Thomas, Ont., south of London.

He made international headlines shortly after his arrest when it emerged he had once sung and danced on the Canadian Idol program. He has been free on bail, under strict conditions, for years.

Wakely said one of Sher's co-conspirators travelled in March 2009 to Afghanistan, where he trained in a terrorist camp, learned to build improvised explosive devices and recorded instructions in a green notebook.

The individual returned to Canada and began contacting others by email from a computer at a public library, the lawyer added.

A publication ban on certain aspects of the case limits what can be reported during the trial.

In initial arguments Monday, one of Sher's lawyers made preliminary points about the legal nature of conspiracy as it relates to the charge.

In essence, the defence was seeking more information about the accusation.

Judge Charles Hackland turned down the request Tuesday, saying the Crown had no obligation to elaborate on the alleged conspiracy at the outset of the trial.

Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

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