“I think it’s fair to say yes, this involved undercover, Mr Big-type covert operations.” — Tom Morino, lawyer for B.C. legislature bomb plot accused John Nuttall
Did you know the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have a target of six disruptions of “terrorist criminal activities” this fiscal year?
No doubt one of those disruptions happened when the RCMP arrested John Nuttall and Amanda Korody on charges of plotting to explode pressure-cooker bombs outside the B.C. legislature building during Canada Day celebrations.
But after their B.C. Supreme Court appearance last Wednesday before Justice Jeanne Watchuk, questions continue to mount.
One query: how much pressure is the RCMP under to meet their terrorist targets as the federal Conservative government looks to reduce police expenditures?
Another question came when Nuttall’s lawyer Tom Morino said after the hearing was adjourned to Sept. 20 that while he received limited prosecution disclosure about the case, it’s enough to conclude the RCMP used “Mr Big” tactics.
“Having seen Mr Big cases, nothing in the [preliminary] disclosure surprised me,” Morino told me.
The controversial “Mr Big” approach pioneered by B.C. RCMP undercover officers in the 1990s involves police posing as criminals to gain suspects’ confidence and collect evidence against them.
More issues surfaced when Nuttall was sent to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam in late July.
Morino said it raises the possibility that Nuttall may be found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder.
Both Nuttall and Korody were taking methadone to reduce withdrawal symptoms from narcotics while living in poverty in a Surrey basement suite when arrested.
So how did two apparently hapless recent converts to Islam allegedly mastermind a bomb plot to kill and injure hundreds of people?
The BC Civil Liberties Association has also raised concerns about a possible “Mr Big” operation.
“The question is how could the police be so confident that the explosive devices wouldn’t work,” said BCCLA policy director Micheal Vonn. “The surmise is they knew that because they either provided or provided portions of them, or somehow had been actively involved with the accused in developing or facilitating the alleged plot.”
Morino doesn’t expect trial dates until 2015.
So the B.C. legislature bomb plot mystery continues, as does the RCMP’s goal of disrupting more terrorist activities before the next fiscal year.