Zakaria Amara

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Zakaria Amara
Born 1986
Criminal charge

2006 Toronto terrorism arrests

  • receiving terrorist training and participating in a terrorist group (x2)
  • recruiting for a terrorist group
  • intent to harm or kill with explosives
  • instructing a person to carry out an activity for the benefit of a terrorist group
Criminal penalty
Life imprisonment
Criminal status Incarcerated

Pleaded Guilty:

  • receiving terrorist training and participating in a terrorist group
  • intent to harm or kill with explosives

Zakaria Amara is one of 17 people detained on June 2 and June 3, 2006, in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in the 2006 Toronto terrorism arrests. He was convicted for planning to have launched terrorist attacks against targets in southern Ontario and was believed to be one of the ringleaders.


As a child, Amara attended Meadowvale Secondary School, as well as Milton District High School. He married, moved into a basement apartment with his in-laws on Periwinkle Crescent, and enrolled at Humber College where he was studying Electronics Engineering Technology.

Described as "funny" and "sociable",[1] he worked part-time as a Canadian Tire gas station attendant to offset costs of his schooling.[2] Amara was an Honour Roll student in high school and later dropped out of Ryerson University.

Terrorist Activities[edit]

Amara is considered one of the ringleaders in the plot and was originally close to Fahim Ahmad. He grew tired with his lack of action and broke away from Ahmed’s group.[3]

He had looked at websites which led investigators to believe he was trying to find instructions on bomb making.[1]

In February 2006, Mubin Shaikh reported to police that Amara had shown him a primitive detonator he had built to be activated by cell phone.[1] This led investigators to "gain access" to Amara's apartment and study the device.[4] He is alleged to have brought Shareef Abdelhaleem into his plot,[5][6] giving him money. Abdelhaleem then gave C$2,000 to an unidentified police mole in the case as a "downpayment" on 3 tonnes[3] of ammonium nitrate which the mole claimed he would purchase.[4]


The Mississauga apartment of the 20-year old Amara was surrounded by police, who positioned snipers on the rooftops of nearby houses. Neighbours brought lawn chairs into their yards, made popcorn and enjoyed watching the three-hour spectacle that entailed Amara's arrest to the end.[2]

His solicitor, David Kolinsky, has claimed that Amara was mistreated by a prison guard, after being allegedly abused while being searched.

On September 19, 2006, Amara was denied bail in a Brampton courtroom.


Charged with four offences under Canada’s Anti-terrorism Act, Amara entered the courtroom smiling toward his mother, who sat twenty feet away.

The charges include two counts of receiving terrorist training and participating in a terrorist group, one count of recruiting for a terrorist group and one count of intent to set off an explosion with the aim of causing bodily harm or great damage.

As a result of preferred direct indictment by the Crown Attorney on 2007-09-24, Amara was re-arrested and charged with knowingly instructing a person to carry out an activity for the benefit of a terrorist group.[7]

On October 8, 2009, Amara pleaded guilty to two counts: "knowingly participating in a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion for the benefit of a terrorist group".[8]

Amara stated he had learned how to construct a fertilizer bomb over the internet and planned to use it on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officials say the type of bomb he was constructing could have killed hundreds after they reconstructed his techniques.[9]

On January 18, 2010, Amara was sentenced 21 months’ imprisonment for the camp plot. In arriving at that sentence, the judge credited Amara with seven years and three months for the 43 months, 2 weeks and 4 days that he had spent in pre-sentence custody. Hence, on that count, he received the equivalent of a nine-year sentence and did not contest that sentence on appeal.[10]

On January 21, 2010, Amara's sentence was extended to life imprisonment. Mr. Justice Bruce Durno's decision is the stiffest punishment imposed in the terrorism conspiracy and also the stiffest punishment imposed to date under Canada's antiterrorism laws, which Parliament passed in the aftermath of al-Qaeda's 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.[11]

A week before his sentence Amara released a public statement apologizing for his actions and renouncing extremism.[12]


  1. ^ a b c PBS, Frontline, Canada: The Cell Next Door, January 30, 2007
  2. ^ a b MacBride, Craig. Mississauga News, Terror charges shock Meadowvale students, June 5, 2006
  3. ^ a b Teotonio, Isabel. "Toronto 18". The Star (Toronto). 
  4. ^ a b CBC, Among the Believers; Timeline
  5. ^ Toronto Star[dead link]
  6. ^ Thomas, Vanessa and Make Becker. Buffalo News, A portrait of terrorist suspects, June 5, 2006.
  7. ^ Teotonio, Isabel (2007-09-24). "Homegrown terror case goes to trial". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  8. ^ "Alleged Toronto 18 ringleader pleads guilty". CBC News. 2009-10-08. Retrieved 2009-10-08. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Canada jails truck bomb plotter". BBC News. January 18, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Zakaria Amara v. Her Majesty the Queen". Supreme Court of Canada. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Freeze, Colin (18 January 2010). "Terrorist mastermind given life sentence". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 19 January 2010. 
  12. ^ "Canada jails Toronto truck bomb plotter Zakaria Amara". BBC News. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2010. 

External links[edit]