Tip from Muslim community helped foil alleged terrorist plot: activist
Published Monday, April 22, 2013 7:21PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 22, 2013 11:51PM EDT
In the wake of Monday’s arrests related to an alleged terrorist plot to attack a passenger train in Canada, an activist is reminding Canadians the Muslim community is on their side.
A tip from the Muslim community helped investigators foil the plot, Hussein Hamdani told CTV News Channel. Without it, “we wouldn’t be having this … arrest right now.”
“This goes to show the partnership between the Muslim community in Canada and the RCMP and all the police services,” said Hamdani, a Canadian lawyer.
“All Canadians need to understand that the Muslim community in Canada are partners in making Canada safe and secure.”
Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were arrested Monday and are facing terror-related criminal charges. The RCMP said neither suspect is a Canadian citizen -- one is from Tunisia and the other is from the United Arab Emirates.
The planned attack was reportedly supported by “al Qaeda elements located in Iran,” according to Assistant RCMP Commissioner James Malizia.
While there’s always concern that the actions of a few isolated individuals will hurt the reputation of Muslims as a whole in Canada, Hamdani hopes that won’t be the case this time.
This afternoon, in advance of the press conference to announce the arrests, the RCMP brought 22 leaders from Canada’s Muslim community to its headquarters for a briefing and to thank them for their assistance.
“There’s a reason why the RCMP called leaders of the Muslim community,” said Hamdani.
These meetings send a powerful message to Muslims in Canada: police aren’t intentionally targeting them, said Muhammad Robert Heft, who runs an organization that provides outreach to Islamic converts.
"It says enough for guys like me to go back to people and say no, no that's not how it is,” Heft said. “You might think it's this way, you might try to come up with a conspiracy but I know some real stand-up guys inside the RCMP who took the time to take our community aside and say, 'Hey look, you guys are part of the greater community, there might be things said about you guys but know that's not what we believe.’”
Similarly, Muslim leaders were summoned by police in 2006, ahead of arrests in the Toronto 18 case.
It might not be well known but collaboration between Muslims and government agencies – like the RCMP, CSIS, Canadian Border Services Agency and the Department of Justice – is quite common, according to Hamdani.
Collaboration is important for facilitating understanding on both sides, he said.
“Our thoughts are that maybe the Muslim community has stereotypes about these security agencies and maybe security agencies have stereotypes about the Muslim community,” he said.