Convicted Toronto 18 plotter renounces right to parole board hearing next month

MONTREAL – A member of the so-called Toronto 18 terrorist cell who is scheduled to be released from prison this fall has renounced his right to a parole hearing.

Ali Dirie exercised his right to cancel his appearance, officials with the Parole Board of Canada said Thursday.

That means the board will now render a decision without hearing from Dirie, said spokeswoman Carole Menard.

“The decision will be rendered on file,” she said.

“At any time, it’s the right of all offenders (to renounce if) they don’t want to be seen in the time frame that we’re proposing.”

Dirie was among 18 people named in 2006 for plotting to cause bloodshed and panic in Canada by bombing nuclear power plants and RCMP headquarters and attacking Parliament.

A police investigation revealed that the group suffered internal divisions and the schemes – which were under heavy surveillance by law enforcement – were never really close to fruition.

The Somali-born Dirie was arrested in 2005 and was already in prison when police moved in on the group in 2006, but he continued to recruit and work for the group while behind bars.

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The board noted that was why he’d spent a significant amount of his time segregated from other inmates, most recently in the Special Handling Unit – the super-maximum security prison in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Que.

Dirie is scheduled to be released in October. He was scheduled to appear before parole officials in mid-August.

Following a parole hearing last September, the board ruled Dirie should not be released early.

The members hearing his case ruled he showed a persistent pattern of violent behaviour and remained likely to harm others.

During last year’s appearance, Dirie vowed he’d changed his ways but lamented the team overseeing his case hadn’t noted any of his progress.

Dirie repeatedly told the board he hadn’t expected to be granted an early release.

He said the only people he needed to make amends with were his family and community – but that it was impossible to do so from behind bars.

“I don’t have to prove anything to anybody here,” he said. ”I’ll have to prove myself to the public and that’s all that matters in the end.”

Dirie said that while he opposed Canada’s military role in Afghanistan, he had come to realize that a violent response was unnecessary.

And while he still believed in jihad, he said he favoured a political and peaceful version to get his point across instead of using terrorist acts like blowing up buildings.

Dirie stated he wanted to work toward a post-secondary degree in engineering and be active in the Muslim community as well as in the Scarborough neighbourhood from where he hails.

“I’m in the process of making amends for what I did,” Dirie told the board.