Friend Of Terror Suspects Talks

Mohammed Robert Heft didn't start out as a Muslim. He converted in 1998 — like some of the suspects, and former friends of his, now accused in the Toronto terror plot.

When asked what his reaction was to the arrest of so many people that he knew, Heft said: "I guess I wasn't surprised. I knew this mentality also existed. So it was only a matter of time until something happened."

In all, Heft says he's familiar with eight of the 17 suspected terrorists. But he knew Steven Chand best — and still can't believe Chand would be part of a plan to bomb Canadian buildings or behead the Prime Minister.

How hard is it for Heft to see someone like Chand — who, like Heft, is a convert to Islam — in a position like this?

"It's hard. He's my friend, and he's somebody that I believe in," Heft told CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers.

Heft runs an organization called Paradise 4 Ever. He works with Muslim converts who he says are vulnerable to extremist teaching and messages.

"What do you think is the root of the appeal that some of these extremist views have for young men?" Bowers asked Heft.

"Quick Answers. Quick slogans. Quick solutions," Heft said.

And violence is not far behind, according to Heft, when young men like his old friends believe Muslims around the world are suffering.

"You sort of get blinded by anger, I guess," he said. "You get blinded by desperation."

And propelled toward violence by images like these downloaded from terrorist Web sites, burned onto DVDs that Heft says suspect Fahim Ahmad was handing out at area mosques.

"One of the DVDs was glorifying the alleged 19 hijackers from Sept. 11, saying that they were all dying as martyrs," Heft said.

Heft says he confronted Ahmad when he thought his radical rhetoric was might lead to action.

Did he honestly believe that if he had more time to get to these young guys they wouldn't have gotten to the point where they were arrested?

"None of them. Absolutely none of them would have been arrested," Heft said.

He still prays his friends are innocent — while he works on other young Muslims he fears may be on the same path.