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WAR ON TERRORISM -
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Defence lawyer says use of mole shows there's "no terrorism in Canada"

Posted in the database on Monday, July 17th, 2006 @ 19:31:27 MST (2318 views)
by Chinta Puxley    CBC News  

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An RCMP informant's decision to go public with how he infiltrated a group accused of plotting terror attacks on Canadian soil has infuriated the lawyer of one of the accused, who says the group was set up.

Mubin Shaikh's apparent involvement in a police operation that resulted in 17 men and youth charged last month shows there is "no terrorism in Canada," said lawyer Rocco Galati.

The police didn't have a case against the accused, so they relied on an informant to "set everything up," said Galati.

"They have to fabricate it," Galati said, re-acting to Shaikh's claim he befriended the group's alleged ringleader, Fahim Ahmad, last October.

"I've seen some other disgusting so-called terrorist cases, but the stench of this one is starting to exude even before we get into court."

Shaikh, a prominent member of Toronto's Muslim community, identified himself on Thursday to several media outlets as a paid police informant who was ordered to place himself in the group.

Shaikh said he was concerned about the impact of their plot on all Canadians and on the country's Muslim community.

The RCMP refused to comment Friday on Shaikh's statements or his role in the investigation.

The use of informants is commonplace in police investigations, as they are often the only ones who can "penetrate the inner circle" of a suspected criminal group, said law professor Alan Young.

"If we were taking the threat of terrorism seriously since 9-11, what we should have been doing is cultivating as many informer relationships as possible," said Young, who teaches law at both Osgoode Hall Law School and the University of Toronto.

"It's very effective."

Still, Young said using informants can also hurt the prosecution during a trial - if it's found the mole entrapped the accused.

"The sins of the informant will be visited upon the police," he said.

The bail hearings for the accused are covered by a publication ban, which prevents the media from reported the evidence presented.

The ban does not extend to any criminal trial that may follow - trials at which Shaikh is expected to testify.

Shaikh's public statements make a mockery of that ban, added Galati.

The 12 men and five youth were arrested on June 2 and charged with participating in a terrorist group and other terrorist-related offences.

Seven of the suspects face an additional charge of attempting to acquire three times the amount of explosives responsible for the devastating Oklahoma City bombing, and plotting to bomb several targets in Ontario.

At a court appearance in June, a lawyer for one of the accused disclosed additional details outside the court about the allegations, including that the group had at one point contemplated storming the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and taking MPs hostage.

One of the accused allegedly talked about beheading Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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