Toronto 18 informant: ‘We need to get our act together’

Paid RCMP informant Mubin Shaikh in 2009. (Colin Perkel/The Canadian Press)

That a shooter got past security at the Centre Block of Parliament, sending MPs and staff scuttling for their lives, came as a shock to Mubin Shaikh, the police informant who infiltrated the so-called Toronto 18 back in 2005.

That a Muslim raised in Canada might launch such a suicide mission didn’t surprise him one bit.

“I know how these people think and how they operate,” he says. “Yes, I’m shocked that they got past security. But this just shows us that we need to get our act together. We have all these discussions about this issue as if we’re inside a bubble. As public safety policy, it’s just disastrous.”

…In light of these attacks, Shaikh believes Canada must take more concrete steps against those espousing extremist doctrine—especially when authorities know the individuals plan to wage jihad.

“If somebody goes on Facebook and posts, ‘I’m going to Syria to fight in jihad,’ then we’re going have a discussion over whether this qualifies as evidence. I think, yeah [it does]. Should we wait to arrest somebody? Or release him to go and do something like what we’ve just seen? I mean, come on…

…The real difference, says Shaikh, lies in their methods. The new self-starters have abandoned the grand spectacle, à la Sept. 11, 2001, in favour of smaller attacks on symbolic targets that are harder to prevent. “They’ve realized, hey, if our intent is to scare the s–t out of people—to trigger heavy-handed responses by government, to force isolation of the Muslim community, pushing them to more radicalization—what do you have to do? Take two guys into a mall, shoot it up, and you’re done. You’ll be out of there in 15 minutes, and we’ll be talking about it for days and weeks and months.”

Whatever you might think of this man I think he right about the final conclusion: spectacular attacks are expensive and time-consuming.  Expect more “lone wolves” (no offence meant to wolves).