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Leader turned informant rattles Muslims

Toronto Muslims debate duty to help track suspected terrorists after a religious leader helped officials arrest 17.

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The surprise announcement by a prominent Muslim leader here that he was an informant who helped authorities arrest 17 Muslims on terrorism charges has raised questions in the Muslim community over the ethics of informing versus a responsibility to stop violence.

Since outing himself as an informant who infiltrated and trained with the suspects, Mubin Shaikh has come under harsh criticism by some Toronto Muslims and sparked a debate about how far citizens should go in aiding police investigations, even as he has been hailed as a hero in the mainstream media.

The men, ranging in age from 15 to 43, were arrested last month after buying three tons of ammonium nitrate, a common bomb-making ingredient, and are alleged by police to have planned to blow up Toronto buildings and storm Canada's parliament. Then, earlier this month, Mr. Shaikh revealed himself to several media outlets as a mole who infiltrated the group at the request of the police.

"I wanted to prevent the loss of life," Shaikh told the Toronto Star newspaper. "I don't want Canadians to think that these [suspects] are what Muslims are. I don't believe in violence here. I wanted to help, and I'm as homegrown as it gets."

Before this, Shaikh was a well-known conservative leader in the Muslim community. He runs a shariah arbitration center and is a fierce advocate for Islamic law, in Canada.

"Whatever the source of his motivation, he did his duty as a Canadian citizen," The National Post newspaper wrote in an editorial. "And he has taught a lesson that others in the Muslim community would do well to heed."

But that view is not shared by many in Toronto's Muslim community. Some wonder whether Shaikh couldn't have dissuaded the terrorism suspects, most of whom are younger than he, from violence. Some accuse him of entrapping the suspects. Some question his motivation – Shaikh claims he was paid C$77,000 (US$68,000) for his work and is owed another C$300,000. Others simply scorn him as a betrayer.

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