Ottawa youth terrorism case included chemical used in homemade explosives: RCMP

Click to play video: 'Ottawa teen accused of anti-Jewish plot had ingredients for TATP bomb: RCMP'
Ottawa teen accused of anti-Jewish plot had ingredients for TATP bomb: RCMP
WATCH: In Ottawa, the teenaged boy accused of plotting an attack against Jewish people has appeared in court, where he faces several terrorism charges. RCMP say the teen possessed the key ingredients to make a TATP bomb. Mackenzie Gray reports – Dec 20, 2023

The Ottawa youth arrested on terrorism charges Friday was allegedly in possession of a chemical commonly used in homemade explosives, according to court documents.

The youth, who cannot be named due to his age, has been accused by the RCMP of counselling terrorism against the Jewish community. He is facing five charges, including possession of explosive substances, and will remain in custody at least until a bail hearing scheduled for Jan. 15.

Multiple national security sources told Global News that this was a high-profile and highly concerning case, and that senior decision-makers in the federal government were routinely briefed on the matter once the youth landed on law enforcement’s radar.

The youth’s alleged path to radicalization began before Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, according to sources, but the charges come against the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas and heightened concerns about both antisemitism and anti-Muslim sentiment in Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

“The arrest on the weekend was an extremely important moment where we’re demonstrating that we are doing everything we can to keep the Jewish community in this country safe and will continue to keep all communities safe in this country,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Global in a year-end interview earlier this week.

Trudeau called the rise of antisemitism in Canada “terrifying” in light of the 15-year old’s arrest.

Click to play video: 'Trudeau calls antisemitism rise ‘terrifying’ after teen terror charges'
Trudeau calls antisemitism rise ‘terrifying’ after teen terror charges

According to court records released Wednesday, the youth was in possession of a chemical called “acetone,” an industrial chemical also known as triacetone tiperoxide (TATP). The charge sheet indicates the youth also had metal ball bearings.

The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) noted that TATP is used by terrorists in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) due to the relatively “inexpensive precursor materials coupled with widely available instructions, resulting in a persistent threat to public safety and first responders.”

Story continues below advertisement

“Franky, it’s not a very good explosive, but it is relatively easy to make,” said Jimmie Oxley, the director of the University of Rhode Island’s Center of Excellence in Explosives, Detection, Mitigation and Response.

It has, however, been used in numerous terrorist attacks, and the U.S. national intelligence director labels it as the “Mother of Satan.” Ball bearings can be used as makeshift shrapnel – and were used in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.

None of the charges against the youth have been tested in court. He has retained Jon Doody, a defence lawyer who recently defended RCMP leaker Cameron Ortis, and is scheduled to appear for a bail hearing on Jan. 15.

The RCMP has not named the alleged target of the youth’s attention, other than to say they believe it was the Jewish community.

Global News first reported Saturday that the youth had been arrested Friday night, and that a specialized RCMP unit that deals with explosives and chemical agents had been on scene for the arrest. A senior national security source described the case as significant, and the RCMP re-issued guidance to parents over the weekend about how to flag if a youth was becoming radicalized.

The youth’s father, speaking exclusively to Global News on Saturday morning, said that his son had been becoming “more religious,” and that the father told him to stay away from “extremist people.”

Story continues below advertisement

“There are some people taking advantage of him,” the father, whom Global News is not identifying to protect the youth’s identity, said.

“They are bad. They are not religious. They use religion. They use religion to achieve their goals, you know, their personal goals, private goals.”

Global later reported that a Facebook profile that appears to be the youth’s father had posted derogatory comments about Israelis. The father has not responded to subsequent requests for comment.

Amaranth Amarasingam, a Queen’s University professor that researches religious extremism, said that Canada has seen an uptick in the number of younger people radicalized to violence in recent years.

“What is surprising (in this case) is the level of planning they were able to engage in … at such a young age,” Amarasingam told Global in an interview.

“Usually when you’re talking about very young individuals involved in extremism, it’s usually, you know, threats or posting online content or … trying to travel overseas to fight somewhere,” he said.

“But to be able to stockpile weapons and things like that domestically, that takes a level of maturity and connection and awareness which usually we don’t see in younger people.”

— with files from Mercedes Stephenson and Jillian Piper.


Sponsored content