Legislature

New Podcast Digs Into Police-Fabricated Legislature Bombing Plot

“I know what’s going on,” proclaims John Nuttall at the start of the second episode of CBC’s new five-part podcast series, Pressure Cooker.

Nuttall, it turns out, didn’t know what was going on; at that time, of anyone on the planet, Nuttall was perhaps among the people who knew the least about what was going on.

Nuttall was well into the process of falling into a trap set by the RCMP – a well-laid maze that began with a harmless plea for help and ended with his arrest for attempting to bomb the Legislative Assembly of the British Columbia on Canada Day 2013 For Nuttall and his wife, Amanda Korody, the operation involved police carefully isolating them from family, friends and traditional Islam – their newly adopted religion – and systematically removes the many otherwise immovable obstacles that stood between the inept couple and their ability to carry out a violent attack.

Pressure Cooker, hosted by Daniel Pierce and produced by Sarah Berman and Rafferty Baker, is a breathtaking tale of two storylines: the bombing planned by Nuttall and Korody, and the RCMP’s efforts to guide the couple step step by step throughout the planning process. .

“This is really a case where the RCMP fabricated the crime,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce said in a scathing 2015 decision, which the appeals court ruled. then confirmed. This court called it a “travesty of justice”.

The new podcast uses more than a hundred hours of police surveillance recordings and CBC’s own interviews with the couple to guide audiences through this process of “making”, in a gripping, infuriating and informative story that turns sometimes into territory better suited to a dark comedy than a documentary about one of Victoria’s most bizarre crimes.

‘Absolutely breathtaking’ surveillance tapes

Pierce first learned of the story through Berman’s reporting for VICE during Nuttall and Korody’s original trial. When he was looking for the subject of a film he could write, this lawsuit came to mind – it was “a cross between The Wire and Fubar”, he said.

The couple, freed by the decision of the court of appeal, agreed to speak to him, so he recorded an interview. And then he got the tapes: Attorneys for Nuttall and Korody turned over more than a hundred hours of police surveillance audio and video, which they had accessed before the trial.

It was then that he knew he had something special.

“As soon as I heard that, I was like, ‘This is absolutely beautiful. “”

The result of this tape is something more intimate than the interviews alone would reveal. Listeners are privy to the couple’s private conversations as they discuss their fear of what they believe to be a terrorist network (in reality, the RCMP) driving them toward a plot they are ambivalent to pursue.

John Nuttall, left, and Amanda Korody, right. Photo: Dan Pierce/CBC (submitted)

Sometimes it’s emotional and raw; to others, it’s downright silly. The contrast makes listening confusing.

“We’re talking about blowing people up, but we’re also talking about the most ridiculous way to do it,” Pierce said.

More than once, Nuttall backtracks on a nonsensical plot to hijack a nuclear submarine “with like ten guys with AK[47]s” to force Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to step down.

“Notice, we didn’t know how to operate a nuclear submarine,” Korody jokes in an interview with Pierce.

“How hard could that be, honestly?” Nuttall asks between bites of pita.

“Probably quite difficult,” suggests Korody.

The podcast highlights what Judge Bruce herself said in her decision: “Their ideas were unrealistic, impractical and grandiose and it was abundantly clear to the RCMP that [the couple] …would be unable to implement any of their jihadist ideas” without significant help from officers.

This help took the form of endless harassment and cajoling from an undercover agent they believed to be part of an al-Qaeda cell, and futile demands that they stay at task.

At one point, agents brought the pair to Kelowna to focus on researching and writing their shapeless, ever-evolving plot. Instead, they played round after round of video games.

“[T]The constant direction and prompting they needed to complete the tasks assigned to them showed that it was the police who were at the head of this conspiracy,” Judge Bruce wrote.

A grim explanation

Nuttall and Korody are unlikely heroes. At the time of their entrapment, they were taking and quitting heroin, were mired in poverty, and had just become part of a religion they did not fully understand. They are on tape describing the (hypothetical) brutal murders of everyone from hotel staff to members of the Canadian Navy.

Those comments, they now say, were part of a “show” they put on for people they believed to be dangerous terrorists.

“It’s actually supported in the band,” Pierce said. “You notice a stark difference between the way they act when they’re with the officer and the way they act when they’re just with each other.”

At a critical moment in Kelowna, the couple find themselves alone between meetings with the undercover RCMP. Nuttall urges Korody to focus – their lives could be at stake. “If this doesn’t happen, we’re finished,” he tells her, sounding panicked. “We will be dropped. We will be deleted. You understood?”

Even today, Pierce says, the couple hold controversial and difficult views. They were strong believers in conspiracy theories before the investigation and their three years in prison — “all the classics — the chemtrails, the Illuminati,” Pierce said — and those views have rather hardened now.

“[Nuttall] will always be drawn to sinister explanations,” Pierce said, but that instinct hadn’t shielded him from the real sinister plot unfolding behind the scenes. Even during the production of the podcast, the couple seemed unsure that Pierce and Berman’s job was just another police trick that had tricked them over and over again for years. (Pierce doesn’t know if they ever listened to it.)

The RCMP itself declined to participate in the podcast, although the Crown prosecutor granted an interview in his own defense, arguing the case the government lost, resoundingly in both provincial courthouses. To Pierce’s knowledge, no police officer has ever been officially censured for the failed operation.

A major shortcoming in the podcast – the involvement of the security agency CSIS in the investigation – looms as the series draws to a close. No agency representative agreed to speak to CBC for the podcast, and attempts to clarify their agents’ involvement were denied. Pierce says an upcoming bonus episode might shed some light on that.

As for the feature Pierce originally planned to make, he says the podcast could serve as a roadmap, but now that he’s spent years plunging into the quagmire of that story, he’s considering a five-part miniseries. or six parts.

“I’ve learned so much more about this case since writing that script,” he said. “I just don’t know how you could cram that story into a feature film.”