What the jury never heard in Via terror trial

On the day, six weeks ago, that nearly 300 men and women obeyed their summons to potentially serve in a much-anticipated terrorism trial, they found a defendant who proceeded to press his forehead to the floor and pray.

One of the prospective jurors snapped: “We are in Canada. Please sit down.”

Which was one way to get punted as an acceptable citizen for the panel that Wednesday began its deliberations in the trial of Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser.

In all the days since, the jury that was eventually selected has never again seen Esseghaier prostrate in prayer. That was primarily because Justice Michael Code took pains to ensure the two accused would have the time and space elsewhere to make salah — the second pillar of Islam that requires ritual praying five times daily: dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset and evening.

Esseghaier had complained, back on Jan. 23, that he hadn’t been given sufficient time to pray over the lunch break…

…But Islamist extremism was very much intrinsic to the multiple terrorism-related offences that sprang from an alleged plot to derail a VIA passenger train. It dripped from every discussion surreptitiously taped by an undercover FBI agent who spent 12 days on the witness stand. It infused the content of every wiretapped phone conversation. It spewed out from just about every recorded face-to-face exchange.

It was their manifesto and dogma: Justification for murder and mayhem, as the jury heard day after day, in retaliation for crimes by the West against Muslims, most specifically for the deployment of Canadian troops to Afghanistan.

Yet there was much the jury never heard, never saw. Those matters can only be reported now…


Poor baby. Might have missed praying to his war god.

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