July 14, 2006

Muslim says he infiltrated “terror” gang

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A well-known Toronto Muslim says he
acted as a government spy to infiltrate a gang accused of
plotting terror attacks in Canada, describing the group as
"fruitcakes" who could have caused great damage.

Mubin Shaikh told CBC television and two major newspapers
that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) spy
service had asked him last year to try to infiltrate the group
of 17 men, who were arrested in early June.

"I wanted to prevent the loss of life," he told Friday's
Toronto Star, saying he also wanted to protect the country's
large Muslim population.

"There are no combatants on the downtown streets of Toronto
... I don't want Canadians to think that these (people) are
what Muslims are."

The gang is accused of planning al Qaeda-inspired attacks
in Ontario, Canada's most-populous province. Police allege the
men plotted to detonate bombs at targets such as the Parliament
buildings in Ottawa and Toronto's stock exchange.

"I would have to say that these are fruitcakes ... but with
the capacity to do some real damage," Shaikh, 29, told CBC.

He said CSIS initially asked him to befriend the leader of
the group. CBC said CSIS later requested Shaikh to lead the
group in a 10-day winter training course in guerrilla tactics.

A spokeswoman for CSIS declined to comment, saying the
service was barred from discussing sources.

Some Muslim leaders reacted with anger to the comments by
Shaikh, who came to prominence last year when he campaigned to
persuade Ontario to adopt Islamic-based sharia law to settle
family matters. The province rejected the bid.

"This is like the pot calling the kettle black because Mr.
Mubin Shaikh has been the exponent of Islamic extremism in this
city," Tarek Fatah of the Canadian Muslim Congress told the
Toronto Star.

"He has been the No. 1 proponent of the imposition of
sharia law in Canada, has been extremely hostile to all
moderate Muslims, which calls into question whether he's acting
out of sincerity or is he trying to fish himself out of his own
troubles," he said. Fatah could not be reached on Friday.

Lawyers for the 17 complain their clients are being treated
harshly and suggest the police might have tried to improperly
entrap them.

Police say the men took steps to acquire three tonnes of
ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be mixed with fuel oil
to produce a powerful explosive.

"I knew that they could put a bomb together and if they had
a bomb I wouldn't be surprised," Shaikh told the CBC, saying he
had been particularly alarmed by one particular conversation
with a member of the group.

"My comment to my CSIS handler at that time afterward was
'This guy is a f***ing time bomb, waiting to go off'," he said.

Although there was no evidence of a backlash against
Canada's Muslims in the wake of the arrests, Shaikh said he had
experienced unpleasantness.

"Apart from people who lose their lives, it's people like
us who suffer more than anything else ... a guy like me, who's
an agent of the state responsible for bringing these guys down
-- I'm still called a terrorist in the street," he said.