People living next door to a B.C. couple accused of trying to carry out a domestic terrorist plot came home from work Tuesday to learn their neighbours were in jail.
North Surrey resident Charlene Thompson lives across from a basement apartment where police were camped out for the past day. The two who were living there, John Nuttall and Amanda Korody, are accused of trying to detonate homemade bombs at the B.C. legislature on Canada Day.
- Read more on alleged Canada Day bomb plot
Thompson said she wasn't entirely surprised after hearing the news, as she witnessed some troubling behaviour at the home starting about four months ago.
She said that early one morning, she overheard Nuttall having a loud phone conversation in the alley.
"[He was] yelling into his cellphone, and you could hear the guy yelling back at him on the cellphone," said Thompson, who then called 911.
"He was … talking about jihad and all sorts of things," she added.
Nuttall and Korody are alleged to have turned ordinary pressure cookers into improvised explosive devices filled with rusted nails, nuts, bolts and washers. RCMP accuse the couple of planning to detonate them outside the legislature building.
An RCMP official claims the couple were "inspired by al-Qaeda ideology," but security experts and some who know the accused question what, exactly, that means.
"I wasn't really surprised ... It is a little shocking, but I wasn't surprised," Thompson said. "I figured something was going to go with this guy — he wasn't really shy about who he was."
'A total pigsty'
The pair's landlord didn't want to be identified but spoke to CBC News after police exercised a search warrant on the property.
"I was stunned … I am still shocked," he said. "It's so strange."
The landlord allowed media into the couple's basement suite on 120th Street and 97A Avenue in Surrey on Wednesday morning.
CBC News reporter Steve Lus, who went inside, said the first thing that struck him upon entering was the overwhelming smell of a litter box that was in a back bathroom.
"This place, for lack of a better word, is a total pigsty," Lus said. "[Maybe] it's partially because police have picked over it, but the landlord says that's basically the way that this couple lived."
Lus said prescription methadone bottles were strewn throughout the apartment, as were video games and DVDs.
- Was alleged Canada Day bomb plot inspired by al-Qaeda?
"The overwhelming sense you get is people who lived basically in squalor," he said.
A credible threat?
Meanwhile, University of Waterloo counter-terrorism expert Veronica Kitchen said from what police have told the public, she's not sure if the bomb plot was a credible threat.
"On the one hand it could be that the RCMP thwarted something, or it could just be that these individuals weren't very good at doing terrorism," she said.
Kitchen said terrorism will always pose a threat to the public, but that doesn't mean members of the public should be too concerned.
"We shouldn't worry too much about the fact that we can't achieve perfect security because it's also true that most of the time, for most Canadians, terrorism is not a thing they need to be worried about," she said.
"They're much more likely to be hurt or killed, say in a car accident, than they are by a terrorist attack."
Kitchen said those with extreme views aren't necessarily a problem — the trick is understanding when they become capable of acting on their views and where they learn how to commit acts of violence.
Nuttall and Korody are scheduled to make their next court appearance on Tuesday.
With files from the CBC's Emily Elias
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