A 44-year-old once described as the spiritual mentor of the alleged “Toronto 17” terrorist group was granted bail yesterday, bolstering supporters’ hopes that the case is weaker than the Crown has said it is.

Since his arrest in June, 2006, Abdul Qayyum Jamal, a Mississauga labourer, had frequently been portrayed as a Svengali figure who lured young Muslims into jihadist activity.

But a few weeks ago, the Crown removed him from the supposed cell’s inner circle by dropping the bomb-plot allegations against him. And yesterday he walked free after 17 months in prison when a judge ordered him released on a $100,000 bond.

Mr. Jamal, the eldest of the suspects, still faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on two remaining charges, involvement in a terrorist act and leading terrorism training. But he will await trial at home with his wife and four young children.

Jail “was very, very, very bad,” Mr. Jamal told reporters as he was released. He said Islam kept him going. “I tell you it was Allah,” he said outside the court, before he drove away in his minivan to his suburban home.

The suspect’s wife, Cheryfa Jamal, a Muslim convert from Nova Scotia, has been more outspoken. “Here is the man they spread rumour about all over the world as the LEADER/SPIRITUAL ADVISOR of the so-called terrorist group,” she wrote in a recent blog posting. Accusing the Crown of “smoke screening,” she added that “they know Abdul Qayyum is innocent, they themselves dropped the bomb charge.”


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