On July 1, 2013, the man co-accused of allegedly plotting to detonate pressure-cooker bombs at the B.C. legislature on Canada Day nervously paced inside an Abbotsford motel room wondering why the devices didn’t explode.
“Those… timers worked until I gave them to him… I tested them over and over,” John Nuttall says to his wife Amanda Korody in an undercover police video shown to a jury Monday (March 23) at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.
The Surrey couple was arrested in Abbotsford on Canada Day 2013 and faces four terrorism-related charges to which they’ve pleaded not guilty.
RCMP arrested the pair following a five-month investigation.
Police seized what they described as three “improvised explosive devices” made from pressure cookers. The bombs were allegedly placed on the grounds of the parliament building in Victoria where thousands of people were to gather for Canada Day celebrations.
The Crown prosecutor has said the RCMP ensured the homemade bombs, which were allegedly built in a Delta hotel, were “inert” when placed in Victoria.
In his opening remarks at the trial on Feb. 2, Crown prosecutor Peter Eccles said the couple had recently converted to the Muslim faith. Eccles told the jury they’d hear and see many hours of audio and video surveillance, which would include conversation between Nuttall and Korody in which Nuttall talks about what will happen after their alleged plot takes place.
“Within 48 hours, we’re going to be listening to the news and hear the aftermath,” Nuttall tells his wife. “This is going to rock the world. Al-Qaeda Canada – that’s who we are.
“As of today we’re mujahid. We’re secret agents.”
Eccles, however, said the Crown believed the pair worked on its own and doubted Al-Qaeda even knew they existed.
In another portion of video played on Monday, Nuttall talks intermittently on his cellphone with an undercover RCMP operator whom he believes is an Arab businessman helping with the plan and arranging their getaway by plane.
The undercover cop cannot be identified due to a publication ban.
In the video Nuttall becomes increasingly concerned as noon approaches with no news about the bombs detonating. The explosives were scheduled to go off between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and Nuttall starts to worry that kids may be killed as the Canada Day festivities start.
“As long as those kids are okay, I’m okay. We’re still responsible if something happens to those kids,” he tells his wife.
Later, he tells the undercover operator: “Those kids, it’s 12 o’clock, what if it goes off? The timers were fine. I checked them 10 times, you checked them 10 times – they were ticking.”
Inside the motel room, Nuttall and his wife fish around plastic bags of clothing and other personal effects as they decide what to bring with them when they escape the country. They never discuss a specific destination, but as he goes through his clothes Nuttall tells his wife: “Where we’re going I don’t think I’d need a leather jacket.
“We’re leaving and never coming back to Canada.”
Back on the phone with the RCMP undercover cop, Nuttall goes over details of the getaway plan. With television coverage of Canada Day events across the country playing in the background, Nuttall repeats the instructions over the phone.
“Just the clothes on my back, yes,” he says. “Go across the street and there’s a Burger King, Okay. We’re on our way brother, just the clothes on our back.”
As the motel room door opens, there’s a loud commotion.
“Police! Get down…. Roll over on your front. Roll over on your front.”
The trial continues this week with a cross-examination of the undercover RCMP officer.
-with files from Sheila Reynolds