updated 5/10/2010 12:42:28 PM ET 2010-05-10T16:42:28

A member of a homegrown terrorist group has entered a guilty plea mid-trial after a jury heard weeks of testimony that Fahim Ahmad led a terror cell plotting to attack Canada's Parliament buildings, electrical grids and nuclear stations, a judge said Monday.

Justice Fletcher Dawson told the jury that Ahmad changed his plea to guilty last week. He did not specify the charges.

"You look out here this morning, members of the jury, you'll see Mr. Ahmad is no longer with us," said Dawson. "Mr. Ahmad last week decided to change his plea to guilty."

Ahmad and 17 others were arrested and charged with terrorism offenses in 2006. The group became known as the Toronto 18.

The jury had been told that Ahmad, 25, was the leader of a terror cell and held two training camps to assess his recruits' suitability. He was also charged with instructing people to carry out activities for a terrorist group and a weapons offense.

Ahmad was being tried along with Steven Chand and Asad Ansari on terrorism charges in the last of the trials associated with the group. Chand also faces a charge related to attempted funding of a terrorist group.

Dawson instructed the jury that Ahmad's plea has "no impact on the guilt or innocence of the two men who remain on trial."

Dozens of tapes have been played for the jury, and in one Ahmad can be heard suggesting going to Parliament to "cut off some heads" and "kill everybody."

The jury was also shown a video of a fiery speech Ahmad gave at a terrorist training camp north of Toronto urging attendees to band together and sacrifice whatever was needed to defeat the empire of Rome, which the court heard meant Western civilization.

"(It) doesn't matter what trials you face, it doesn't matter what comes your way," Ahmad said. "Our mission's greater. Whether we get arrested, whether we (get) killed, we get tortured, our mission's greater than just individuals."

Police informant Mubin Shaikh, who attended the camp and even gave firearms training to the recruits, said all training camp participants were present to hear Ahmad's rousing speech. Many of the participants were quite young — one as young as 14, Shaikh said.

Ahmad also told camp participants later that they share the beliefs of al-Qaida, Shaikh said. Though their group was not officially connected to al-Qaida, "we're down with them," Shaikh quoted Ahmad as saying.

In addition to the three involved in the current trial related to the Toronto 18, one man has been convicted and seven others have pleaded guilty. Seven others had their charges stayed, which means that the government won't proceed with prosecutions.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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