'Devout Muslim' informer aided in Toronto conspiracy arrests

A paid police informer was involved in last month's operation to arrest 12 men and five youths accused of plotting attacks against targets in southern Ontario.

A paid police informant who calls himself"an observant Muslim" infiltrated a group of men and youths arrested last month and charged with plotting to carry out bomb attacks and kidnappings around southern Ontario, CBC News has learned.

The informant, who spoketo Linden McIntyre of CBC's The Fifth Estate, is 29-year-old Mubin Shaikh, a prominent member of Toronto's Indo-Canadian Muslim community. He was born in Canada to immigrant parents.

Press reports say Shaikh will testify at the trials of the 12 men and five youths who have been charged in the case. They were arrested in early June.

Bail hearings for the accused have been taking place in a court in Brampton, Ont.,just west of Toronto.Police say members of the group bought large quantities of fertilizer to make explosives and planned a series of attacks in Ontario because they were angry about the plight of Muslims in other countries.

Shaikh told CBC News that he had worked undercover for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service and the police for more than two years, much of that time with the suspects in the alleged bomb plots.

Shaikh,a former army cadet and Canadian Armed Forces reservist,describes thesuspects as "fruitcakes...with the capacity to do some real damage."

He said what he heard about the plans by the group was similar to what police and prosecutors have alleged, that there were plans to kidnap prominent Canadians and bomb such targets as the Toronto Stock Exchange and the CBC building in Toronto.

He said he was moved to become an informer by concerns about the impact of the plot on all Canadians and particularly on the country's Muslim community.

"My interests were about Islam and Muslims, even and above Canada," he said.

Shaikh said he consulted the Qur'an and senior Muslim religious leaders before going undercover and becoming an informer.

"God says in the Qur'an that we must value one life," he said, "I was guided, I had my licence."

Shaikh has declined formal protection as a court witness after consulting a lawyer, saying he was working for the safety of Canadians and Muslims, not for the police.

Defence lawyers for the 17 accused say the government's case has many flaws and questions are already being raised about the role of informers.

"It's going to depend on the disclosure and what role the operative played," defence lawyer and legal activist Paul Copeland told the Toronto Star.