After the Toronto 18 case, he says, he wasn’t prepared for the backlash from many Muslims who regarded him as a traitor. He was also frustrated by what he says is a lack of support from the RCMP, his former employer. Last month, a document released through WikiLeaks revealed that Shaikh had been place on a U.S. no-fly list for “terrorist-related activity,” alongside the names of the convicted terrorists his work had helped lock up. Shaikh says CSIS is looking into correcting it.
It’s an example of why there is mistrust between Muslim communities and authorities here, Shaikh argues. “In effect, what they’re telling the community is swim out to reach the bridge. That’s not how you build bridges.”
He, too, wants to see a more comprehensive program developed by Muslim leaders, with government backing. “There’s this idea that we’re going to arrest and spy this problem away,” said Shaikh. “And if you think that’s what going’s to happen, I have news for you: it doesn’t work like that.”And I have news for Shaikh: the RCMP has been building bridges galore. It ain't doing the trick. That's something one of Shaikh co-attendees, Somali-Canadian Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, well knows:
Mohamed says he is frustrated by what he regards as Canadian apathy over the problem of at-risk youths. He says he decided to go public with his story last year in the National Post in the hope of helping to stop Somali youths from being recruited to Mogadishu.
Authorities believe as many as 20 young Somalis have been lured from Canada to join the Shabab, which was designated a terrorist organization in Canada last year. Two Toronto women, one of whom was attending university and whose departure shocked her family, left in February. Sources in Somalia’s transitional government told the Star one is now believed to be training at a Shabab camp.
Mohamed, who has political science degree from Brock University and studied law in Australia, works as a Rexdale security guard and struggles to pay rent. He said the media attention about his story prompted a phone call from a government official, but his later attempts to follow up with Canada’s Public Safety Department went nowhere.
Meanwhile, NATO had tapped him for advice and he was flown to bases in the U.K. and Germany to talk about Somalia’s piracy and insurgency.A third Canadian attendee, Pakistani-Canadian Kamran Bohhari, also has harsh words for authorities, who have been receptive to his input:
...Bokhari feels passionate about Canada and says he too has reached out to various high-level political connections suggesting that more needs to be done.
“I hear back, ‘Yes we need to do something,’ ” the 42-year-old said in an interview at his home this week. “Then there’s nothing. No follow through.”Unlike Shaikh, however, Bokhari concedes that the feds aren't the only ones with the problem:
Bokhari believes there is general reluctance in Canada, both within Muslim communities and at the federal government level, to talk openly about the problem.
“Muslim communities have failed to adopt such measures because they lack a counter-terrorism ethic,” he wrote in a 2006 paper for the Muslim Public Affairs Journal. “Part of this can be explained as a function of their current siege mentality, where the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ dialectic. But on the other hand, a lot of this has to do with many Muslims’ inability to distinguish between sentiments of Muslim solidarity and the dire need to view Muslim terrorists as enemies of the community.”Such honesty is quite unusual--and truly refreshing.