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Tip From Imam Led To Break Up Of Canadian Terror Plot

The Canadian terror plot that Dave Schuler took note of yesterday was apparently broken up thanks largely to a tip to police from an Imam:

A tip from a Toronto imam sparked an investigation that culminated in the arrests of two men who allegedly plotted to derail a Via passenger train.

The imam alerted authorities more than a year ago about a person he regarded as an extremist who was corrupting youth in his community.

That single tip led to what the RCMP on Monday called the first-ever Canadian bust of an alleged al-Qaeda terrorist plot.

The RCMP believes that two men, Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, were planning to derail a Via passenger train on the Canadian leg of its Toronto-New York route. The actual imam who phoned in the initial tip to authorities remains anonymous. But community sources confirm his involvement.

“More than a year ago, a client of mine, an imam in the Toronto Muslim community, became concerned after noticing the activities of one of the individuals now under arrest,” Toronto lawyer Naseer Syed told The Globe and Mail, referring to notes he had taken last year.

The men were taken into custody Monday in Montreal and Toronto. They face several criminal charges, including plotting murder, terrorist recruitment and terrorism.

(…)

The nation’s top counterterrorism police officials briefed reporters about the arrest Monday, but not before they made a point of summoning about 20 leaders of Toronto’s Islamic community to a meeting.

The message from authorities to the Muslim community? Thank you for a helping hand.

“The first comment they made, and they encouraged us to make it a talking point, is that, but for the Muslim community’s intervention, we may not have had the success we’ve had,” said Hussein Hamdani, a lawyer who was invited to the pre-briefing.

Because the Toronto suspect was allegedly seen trying to spread extremist propaganda to youth, the imam felt obliged to alert the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and RCMP to these activities.

Alarmed by Mr. Jaser’s “attempts to approach young Muslims,” the imam “took the initiative to notify the authorities.” Mr. Syed said.

This isn’t unique. There have been similar cases here in the United States where members of the Muslim community have alerted authorities to what they found to be suspicious activity in their community. If nothing else, it puts the lie to much of the rhetoric that comes from the anti-Muslim crowd on the right.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    This is good news.

    It should not be.

    It should not be “news” at all.

    As you note, stories like this are not unique. But the “news” should be the cases where other Muslims do NOT act to rein in the extremists in their midst, not the cases where they do.

    What will be educational is to see how this Imam is treated by his fellow Muslims after this. He should be lauded as a role model, but I’ll wager he’ll be called a traitor to Islam by many.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 16

  2. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: What have you done to rein in the Christian extremists in our midst?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  3. PD Shaw says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I believe as a general proposition, prosecutors will not reveal their sources for tips, for a wide variety of reasons unrelated to religion. Most importantly, it protects the tipper from the convict or his family/friends/accomplices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. matt bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    What will be educational is to see how this Imam is treated by his fellow Muslims after this. He should be lauded as a role model, but I’ll wager he’ll be called a traitor to Islam by many.

    And this is exactly why stories about Imam’s “doing the right thing” need to remain news.

    Because without them being reported on, certain folks biases immediately cause them to assume the worst. For the very real bias exists (as evidenced by the post above) that Muslims, at best, ignore extremists in their midst, and more often than not encourage them. And apparently no amount of counter-facts seem to shake this opinion.

    For example, immediately after an event like this, there’s a large element in the US that immediate complains “why are Muslims not decrying the violence?” while ignoring all the example of that activity. Ironically, its usually these are the same people who, in the wake of these events, also complain about how newspapers run editorials by Imam’s about how true Islam is against violence (which also typically decry the actions of the people in question).

    Of course these are the same people who make “doing anything while Arab/Muslim” a crime.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  5. Andre Kenji says:

    The problem is that is hard to determine if a extremist is only a annoying person or a potential terrorist. There are some commenters in this blog that I don´t know if they are just annoying people or if they are potential terrorists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: What have you done to rein in the Christian extremists in our midst?

    I’ve kept them from killing the people behind The Book of Mormon, killing Bill Maher for his anti-religious rants, killing Andre Serrano and the “artist” who made the Madonna out of elephant dung, and all the other people who’ve insulted Christianity and its various denominations.

    All those Christian extremists looked at how Muslim extremists have reacted to those who’ve “insulted” Islam — threats, attacks, riots, and even assassinations. They looked at how people treated other “insults” to Islam afterwards — pissing in their pants in terror and actively suppressing those who would “insult” Islam. (The examples there are that minister in Florida who threatened to burn a Koran, the evangelists who went into Detroit and were arrested for preaching the Gospel on the streets, and the would-be movie-maker in California who’s still locked up, among many others.) And they said “if that’s how one gets respect for one’s faith, then let’s give that a try!”

    But I — I single-handedly — stood up to them and stopped them. At grave personal risk, I prevented them from seeking out and killing the people I mentioned above, and many more.

    For that alone, I deserve a Nobel Peace Prize. If Obama can win one, I sure as hell deserve it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  7. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: If I can pry my tongue out of my cheek for a moment, may I compliment you on the proper use of “rein” in that context? I’m so used to seeing “reign in” that it’s quite refreshing to see it used properly.

    You made a really stupid point, but you did it in a grammatically correct fashion, and I wanted to express my gratitude for that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Andre Kenji: There are some commenters in this blog that I don´t know if they are just annoying people or if they are potential terrorists.

    “Potential” is such a vague word. For a while there, a lot of mainstream feminists were describing all men as “potential rapists.” I always thought an appropriate response was to point out that those same feminists were also “potential prostitutes.”

    Or “potential housewives.” The ones saying the “potential rapists” would find that even more offensive.

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