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Undercover Jihadi: Inside the Toronto 18 - Al Qaeda Inspired, Homegrown, Terrorism in the West

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Mubin Shaikh was born and raised in Toronto, Canada amidst twenty-first century, Western values. He attended public school. But at night, his parents insisted he also attend Islamic madrasa. Mubin joined the Canadian Army Cadets, used drugs, had sex and partied just like the other kids. He fit right in—until he didn’t. Going through an acute identity crisis at age nineteen, Mubin Shaikh was born and raised in Toronto, Canada amidst twenty-first century, Western values. He attended public school. But at night, his parents insisted he also attend Islamic madrasa. Mubin joined the Canadian Army Cadets, used drugs, had sex and partied just like the other kids. He fit right in—until he didn’t. Going through an acute identity crisis at age nineteen, Mubin recommitted himself to Islam. But a chance encounter with the Taliban in Pakistan and then exposure to Canadian extremists took him down the militant jihadi path. Mubin initially celebrated the 9-11 attacks, although he found the killing of innocent civilians in the name of Islam disturbing. 9-11 prompted him to travel again, to Syria—to become involved in the “great jihad”—the Muslim version of the final apocalypse in “the land of Sham and the Two Rivers.” There he learned the truth of his religion and faced a fork in the road. Mubin went back in—but this time working undercover with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Ultimately joining the “Toronto 18”, Mubin walked a tightrope between Western culture and Islamic jihad. Risking everything, he gathered inside information about the group’s plans for catastrophic terror attacks—to detonate truck bombs around the city of Toronto, behead the Prime Minister, and storm the Parliament Building in retaliation for Western intervention in Muslim lands. Their cadres included Americans who had similar ideas for Washington, D.C. Mubin Shaikh is one of the very few people in the world to have actually been undercover in a homegrown terror cell. His is a story of growing up Muslim in an age where militant jihad is glorified, of being caught between two identities and finally emerging victorious. Because of this courageous experience, Shaikh is considered an expert for topics related to radicalization and violent extremism and has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBC, CNN and multiple outlets to speak on these topics. He remains closely connected to various governments and their national security functions.


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Mubin Shaikh was born and raised in Toronto, Canada amidst twenty-first century, Western values. He attended public school. But at night, his parents insisted he also attend Islamic madrasa. Mubin joined the Canadian Army Cadets, used drugs, had sex and partied just like the other kids. He fit right in—until he didn’t. Going through an acute identity crisis at age nineteen, Mubin Shaikh was born and raised in Toronto, Canada amidst twenty-first century, Western values. He attended public school. But at night, his parents insisted he also attend Islamic madrasa. Mubin joined the Canadian Army Cadets, used drugs, had sex and partied just like the other kids. He fit right in—until he didn’t. Going through an acute identity crisis at age nineteen, Mubin recommitted himself to Islam. But a chance encounter with the Taliban in Pakistan and then exposure to Canadian extremists took him down the militant jihadi path. Mubin initially celebrated the 9-11 attacks, although he found the killing of innocent civilians in the name of Islam disturbing. 9-11 prompted him to travel again, to Syria—to become involved in the “great jihad”—the Muslim version of the final apocalypse in “the land of Sham and the Two Rivers.” There he learned the truth of his religion and faced a fork in the road. Mubin went back in—but this time working undercover with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Ultimately joining the “Toronto 18”, Mubin walked a tightrope between Western culture and Islamic jihad. Risking everything, he gathered inside information about the group’s plans for catastrophic terror attacks—to detonate truck bombs around the city of Toronto, behead the Prime Minister, and storm the Parliament Building in retaliation for Western intervention in Muslim lands. Their cadres included Americans who had similar ideas for Washington, D.C. Mubin Shaikh is one of the very few people in the world to have actually been undercover in a homegrown terror cell. His is a story of growing up Muslim in an age where militant jihad is glorified, of being caught between two identities and finally emerging victorious. Because of this courageous experience, Shaikh is considered an expert for topics related to radicalization and violent extremism and has appeared on ABC, NBC, CBC, CNN and multiple outlets to speak on these topics. He remains closely connected to various governments and their national security functions.

30 review for Undercover Jihadi: Inside the Toronto 18 - Al Qaeda Inspired, Homegrown, Terrorism in the West

  1. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    This is not a psychological analysis of what draws certain individuals into terrorist activity. There are enough studies on the subject. Rather, this is a personal account of someone who did become involved in extremist behaviour but thankfully encountered someone knowledgeable enough to lead him away from it. As a result, he went under cover and was responsible for perhaps saving thousands of lives through infiltrating a terrorist organization in Toronto. His story deserves to be told.

  2. 5 out of 5

    michael culwick

    Quite interesting, for those who ask, "why do some Muslims join a jihadists group". Did not live up to expectations of a really good read. Quite interesting, for those who ask, "why do some Muslims join a jihadists group". Did not live up to expectations of a really good read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    C M

    Undercover Jihadi is the remarkable story of Mubin Shaikh, a young Canadian, son of Muslim immigrants from India, who gets involved in one of the biggest terrorist cases in Canada. The book is mostly an autobiography, well-written and contextualized by terrorism scholar Anne Speckhard. Mubin's personal story is reminiscent of many western Jihadis, even if he in the ends chooses good over evil. It is the personal struggle of living in two cultures, a permissive "western" culture and a very strict Undercover Jihadi is the remarkable story of Mubin Shaikh, a young Canadian, son of Muslim immigrants from India, who gets involved in one of the biggest terrorist cases in Canada. The book is mostly an autobiography, well-written and contextualized by terrorism scholar Anne Speckhard. Mubin's personal story is reminiscent of many western Jihadis, even if he in the ends chooses good over evil. It is the personal struggle of living in two cultures, a permissive "western" culture and a very strict "Muslim" culture, of traumatic experiences, and of an intense need to belong. In fact,if there is one thing that drives him into all his risky endeavors, however opposed they are, it is his intense desire to belong, to be accepted by a group. In fact, it is so stereotypical that there is a danger that every western Jihadist is now seen through the lens of Mubin, which is strengthened because of Mubin's very active presence in the traditional and social media, as "the" specialist on the topic, as he has both experienced and studied it. While it is important to remember that this is just one man's (remarkable) story, it is gripping reading that does provide important insights into a phenomenon that is unfortunately going to remain high on the public agenda for years to come.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Monica

  5. 4 out of 5

    Heike Craft

  6. 4 out of 5

    giovanni bonanni

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nabil

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jilly Prather

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jocelyne Ball

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ilham Alam

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rahul Kumar

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joel

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lloyd Johnson

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jim

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lesley Olafson

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maxine Turner

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ameera Ahmed

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kieran Smith

  19. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Hegghammer

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dean Shumate

  21. 5 out of 5

    Camilla Bakke

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey Kalber

  23. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Nault

  24. 5 out of 5

    Arno A Michaelis IV

  25. 4 out of 5

    Taylor

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anne

  27. 4 out of 5

    Farida Otmishi

  28. 4 out of 5

    carol bell

  29. 5 out of 5

    Asha Soman

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Davis

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