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Toronto 18 member Saad Gaya granted day parole

Toronto 18 member released on day parole in middle of 18-year sentence

Saad Gaya, 28, can attend school, work, but cannot use computers or internet

The Canadian Press Posted: Jan 02, 2016 5:37 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 02, 2016 6:36 PM ET

Saad Gaya, shown in a sketch, pleaded guilty to belonging to a terrorist group. The Toronto 18 member was granted day parole this week.

Saad Gaya, shown in a sketch, pleaded guilty to belonging to a terrorist group. The Toronto 18 member was granted day parole this week. (Alex Tavshunsky/CBC)

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The release of a member of the so-called Toronto 18 on day parole could act as a benchmark for terror cases in years to come, an expert on terrorism and de-radicalization says.

Kent Roach, law professor and co-author of a book on Canada’s anti-terrorism policy, said the string of conditions attached to Saad Gaya’s day parole might serve as a template for other convicted terrorists granted some form of parole from prison.

Gaya was denied full parole on Wednesday. Instead, he was granted up to six months of day parole, five years into his 18-year sentence.

“This is an issue that is going to reoccur over the next decade,” the University of Toronto professor said. “Although some convicted terrorists have been sentenced to life imprisonment, many others have not.”

“The issue of whether they have been rehabilitated is something we will see more and more,” he added.

Can attend school, work

Gaya, now 28, is serving time after pleading guilty to participating in a plot to bomb three Toronto targets, including the Toronto Stock Exchange, in protest of Canada’s military involvement in Afghanistan.

The former science student at Hamilton’s McMaster University was arrested in 2006 while unloading a delivery truck filled with three tonnes of bags marked ammonium nitrate fertilizer. He was originally sentenced in 2010 to 12 years in prison, and an appeal court increased that to 18 years.

Gaya’s day parole will allow him to attend school and work in the community. But he must return to a community-based residential facility at night. According to the Parole Board of Canada decision obtained by The Canadian Press, Gaya plans on pursuing a master’s degree.

Gaya’s parole is contingent on a number of factors, including mandatory religious counselling from an imam ā€” a Muslim religious leader ā€” who is approved by Correctional Service of Canada.

Rehabilitating radicals

Canada does not yet have a rehabilitation program focused on de-radicalization, said Roach, which gives him cause for concern.

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