TORONTO – A Toronto jury working to overcome an impasse in their deliberations asked Thursday to revisit a portion of evidence heard at the trial of two men accused of plotting to derail a passenger train.
The 12-member panel at the trial of Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier asked if certain testimony from an undercover FBI agent who befriended the pair could be played back to them.
The request came a day after the jury announced they had reached a unanimous verdict on all charges against one accused, but were deadlocked on some charges against the other.
The jury did not specify which man or which charges they were unable to agree on. The judge asked them to keep deliberating.
Esseghaier didn’t participate in his trial because he wanted to be judged by the rules of the Qur’an.
Jaser’s lawyer has argued his client was never actually intent on carrying out any terrorist activities, but was only feigning interest as part of an elaborate con to extract money from Esseghaier and the undercover agent.
In what was their fifth question to the judge, the jury asked to hear court recordings of the FBI agent’s recollection of his first meeting with Jaser and his discussions with both men before they told him about the alleged train plot.
In recordings of the trial played in court, the jury heard the agent recount his first encounter with Jaser, who was dressed in full Islamic garb and sported a long beard at the time.
In that conversation, the agent recalled Jaser spoke of his reverence for a person the agent considered a radical cleric thought to be the founder of jihadist ideology against the western world.
Also on that first night they met, the agent recalled Jaser saying “we are being watched, the government knows who we are and where we are at all times.”
The next day, Jaser asked the agent if they could go for a walk.
Jaser’s lawyer, John Norris, asked the agent about that moment.
“When Mr. Jaser asked to speak to you in private, in part you wondered is he trying to get some money out of you,” Norris said.
“Yes,” the agent replied.
“Even before your walk, Mr. Jaser suggested some marketing ideas,” Norris added.
That same moment was brought up by a crown lawyer during the trial. The undercover agent was heard saying that he also thought that another reason for the walk was to discuss the alleged train plot.
Jaser and Esseghaier are charged with two counts of conspiracy and two counts of participating in or contributing to a terrorist group. Esseghaier is also facing a fifth terror-related charge.