Tags: Exclusive Interviews | Iraq in Crisis | ISIS/Islamic State | MidPoint | Syria | War on Terrorism | Mubin Shaikh

Ex-Jihadist: I 'Fantasized' About Committing Attacks

By    |   Monday, 12 Jan 2015 04:07 PM

A former jihadist who renounced radical Islam after 9/11 and went under cover for Canadian counter-terrorism authorities told Newsmax TV on Monday that in his earlier life he fantasized about committing terrorist acts, and could have "very easily" crossed over into real violence.

"Thankfully, I did not engage in any violent attacks," Mubin Shaikh, who helped break up a jihadist ring in Canada by infiltrating radical Muslim circles, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner. "It's one of the reasons why I was able to work with the intelligence service."

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Reflecting on last week's violence in Paris, Shaikh described the attraction he developed to radical Islam in the 1990s as a teenager from a comfortable Muslim home in Toronto, and the difficulty of both identifying likely jihadists in Western societies and getting them to reject the ideology before they act.

"I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and I wasn't discriminated against," said Shaikh, who is Muslim. "I wasn't alienated or isolated. But I was made to feel guilty that I was living a party life.

"At the age of 19, I went to Pakistan and had a chance encounter with the Taliban," he said. "I was bit by the jihadi bug, so to speak."

For the next six years, 1995-2001, Shaik said he "engaged in extremist rhetoric, supporting the global jihadist culture, and had multiple chances to go and fight in Pakistan, Chechnya and India."

"Thank God, all my circumstances didn't permit me to go, but it was the 9/11 attacks that made me rethink my commitment to the cause," he said.

He said he spent the next two years in Syria studying Islam and Arabic culture intensively, and "debunking my extremist interpretations" of the Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

That led to a return to Canada and two years of "direct, embedded undercover work with extremist groups and individuals . . . culminating in a major prosecution in 2006, in which 11 individuals were convicted," said Shaikh.

He said radical Islam arises in the West from a mixture of social and individual circumstances,  grievances and ideology, all interacting.

"For me, it was an identity crisis," he said, "and a sense of adventure."

"I personally, directly did not have any grievances," said Shaikh. "But once I started to watch jihadi videos over and over and over, you develop what's called a 'vicarious deprivation,' so that the deprivation of other people that you are watching becomes your personal deprivation and suffering."

Born and raised as a moderate Muslim, he turned "extreme," he said, and came to embrace an "unflinching, unyielding worldview" of jihadism that advocated change through violence.

Shaikh said that a rehabilitation like his own is possible, but has to come from within.

"You can't change unless you want to change," he said. "Forced rehabilitation does not work."

He added that "there's also the concern about sleeper agents: people who will say what you want to hear, answer the questions the way you want to hear, just so that they cannot be arrested and charged, [in order to] be put back in circulation to conduct further attacks."

Shaiihk said he has "little doubt" that such sleeper cells exist in Canada and the United States — returnees from radical training  abroad who live in plain view and are preparing terrorist strikes.

He said it is likely "a very low number of individuals, but you can see what … individuals can do. It's certainly not an imaginary threat."

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A former jihadist who renounced radical Islam after 9/11 and went under cover for Canadian counter-terrorism authorities told Newsmax TV on Monday that in his earlier life he fantasized about committing terrorist acts, and could have "very easily" crossed over into real violence.
Mubin Shaikh, radical Islam
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2015-07-12
Monday, 12 Jan 2015 04:07 PM
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