Sentencing delayed for Canadian who plotted ISIS attack as defence prepares medical reports

NYPD anti-terror police patrol Times Square, Friday Nov. 4, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews). (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

“Multiple medical reports” are expected to be tabled at the sentencing of a Canadian who plotted terrorist attacks in New York City for the so-called Islamic State, according to court documents.

The sentencing of Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy was delayed this week due to complications in arranging for medical advisors to visit the Manhattan jail where the Canadian is being held.

Originally scheduled for March 1, the sentencing hearing was moved to April 9.

In a letter dated Feb. 11 asking the judge to push back the sentencing, defence lawyer Andrew Frisch wrote that he needed more time because of difficulties with medical visits “as we attempt to draft a submission for the court that is expected to include multiple medical reports.”

READ MORE: ‘I agreed to support ISIS’: transcript of Canadian’s confession about New York terror plot

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He did not elaborate but Global News has reported that El Bahnasawy, a Kuwait-born high school dropout from Mississauga, Ont., was taking a medication used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Arrested in New Jersey in May 2016, when he was 18 years old, El Bahnasawy later pleaded guilty to planning attacks targeting Times Square, the New York subway and concert venues.

Two alleged co-conspirators in Pakistan and the Philippines have also been charged. The arrests followed an FBI undercover investigation conducted in cooperation with the RCMP.

READ MORE: Canadian’s involvement in New York terror plot highlights Islamic State’s global reach: experts

“These Americans need an attack … I wanna create the next 9/11,” El Bahnasawy wrote to a man he thought was a co-conspirator but who was actually working undercover for police.

Bottles of Hydrogen peroxide shipped to the US as part of Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy’s terror plot.
Bottles of Hydrogen peroxide shipped to the US as part of Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy’s terror plot. Handout

The attacks were to occur in June 2016, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, U.S. authorities said. El Bahnasawy had purchased bomb-making materials in Ontario and sent them to the informant.

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Before accepting his guilty plea last year, a U.S. federal judge questioned El Bahnasawy at length about his physical and mental health but both he and his lawyers agreed he was competent.

Court documents, however, show that El Bahnasawy was being treated for mental health issues. He was seeing a psychiatrist in jail, taking the anti-psychotic medication Geodon and having hallucinations.

The federal government’s 2017 Public Report on the Terrorist Threat to Canada said that violent extremists inspired by ISIS and al-Qaeda remained “the main terrorist threat to Canada.”

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