An alternative ending to the Nuttall/Korody saga

Tis the season, as they say, and at the Walsh-Gurski household Christmas movies are a tradition, no matter how many times they have been viewed. Me, I like A Christmas Carol, the 1951 British version with Alistair Sim as Scrooge: I have viewed it every Christmas Eve for I don’t know how long. My wife prefers It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a man down on his luck who learns just how important his life really is. As the story unfolds, George tries to take his own life but is saved by a guardian angel who proceeds to show him how things would have turned out had he never existed (spoiler alert: not good). In the end all is well and everyone has a Merry Christmas.

In this spirit I’d like to adapt It’s a Wonderful Life to the case of John Nuttall and Amanda Korody, two BC terrorists found guilty by jury of conspiring to commit a terrorist act in 2013 on the grounds of the BC Legislature along the lines of the Boston Marathon attack of that same year. On appeal, a judge reversed the verdict and the BC Appeals Court just confirmed that ruling yesterday. The RCMP handling of the case has been called a ‘travesty’ and the Force has been accused of creating a terrorist plot where there was none, convincing and leading the recovering drug-addicted ne’er-do-wells down the path to mass violence.

Here is my version of events in a parallel world, a la George Bailey. But before I begin I have to note that I must be careful with what I write. I worked on the case when it was still with CSIS and I am privy to information on Nuttall and Korody that I cannot disclose (everything relevant to the court case was presented by the RCMP: CSIS information is not collected to evidentiary standards in Canada and thus cannot be used in court – the trial was based solely on RCMP-collected information, as are all such trials).

In this alternative version, the RCMP realises that neither John Nuttall nor his wife Amanda Korody can organise a piss-up in a bar, let alone a terrorist act, so they decide to stop their investigation. There is no ‘Mr. Big’, no human agent, no suggestion of what to do, no encouragement to come up with alternative, more plausible plots. The couple is left to their own devices and everyone lives happily ever after.

Except that the pair go on to carry out an attack on the lawn of the BC Legislature on Canada Day 2013. The details are unimportant. They could have used pressure cooker bombs, a knife, a van, a sword, a gun, whatever. Dozens are killed and wounded and everyone wants to know where the hell the RCMP was since, as was made clear in the most recent ruling, they
“were right to commence to the investigation, and certainly they had reasonable suspicion that the two might commit a crime
“. But hey, we all know that people of the level of Korody and Nuttall can’t really be that serious or dangerous so why investigate them?

Sound like a fantasy to you? Would you care to research how many people very like the BC pair have succeeded in carrying out terrorist attacks over the past few years? Go ahead: you will come up with dozens of examples.

Yes, you counter, but Nuttall and Korody were 100% incapable of really doing anything violent and had it not been for the RCMP overzealous handling of the couple nothing would have happened. Unfortunate souls like these never pose a threat and never carry out acts of ideologically-motivated terrorism, so you say. Do me a favour. Ask the relatives of the victims of ‘bullied’ Alexandre Bissonnette (2017 Quebec City mosque shootings), ‘drug-addled unemployed’ Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (2014 Parliament Hill and National War Memorial attacks) and ‘loner’ Alex Minassian (2018 Yonge Street van rammer) how they feel about your theory. Based on your conviction that losers cannot succeed, none of these incidents should have occurred.

Is my alternative reality that far-fetched? I’d like to know what you think. For the record I hope this is the last time I feel the need to write about John and Amanda, unless of course they eventually get their shit together and, still ideologically-committed to jihad, end up killing innocent Canadians (NB has anyone determined whether the two have ‘abandoned’ their views?). In that sad scenario I will likely revisit this issue. I just hope I don’t descend to writing “I told you so”.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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