22 Apr 2013

Canadian police charge two over al-Qaeda bomb plot

Canadian police charge two residents with an al Qaeda-linked plot to “carry out a terrorist attack” against a passenger train on a line from New York to Toronto.

At a news conference, the authorities said the suspects Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, were arrested in Montreal and Toronto on Monday.

The attacked was allegedly planned on a VIA passenger train in the greater Toronto area. It was not clear when.

Canadian authorities, the FBI and US Homeland Security police and agents were involved in the year-long investigation that led to the arrests in Toronto and Montreal.

Assistant Commissioner James Maliza, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said: “Had this plot been carried out it would have resulted in innocent people being killed, or seriously injured.”

Colleague Chief Superintendent Jennifer Strachan added: “We are alleging that these two individuals took steps and conducted activities to initiate a terrorist attack.

“They watched trains and railways in the Greater Toronto area.

“These arrests are the conclusion of a very complex and lengthy investigation.”

The two men will now appear in court on Tuesday for a bail hearing.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said the surveillance operation leading to the arrests of the two suspects was “a result of extensive collaborative efforts”.

They said the two men were not Canadian citizens and were supported by “al-Qaeda elements in Iran” without providing further details.

At the same time, the RCMP said they believed the alleged plan to attack was in the planning stage and “there was no imminent threat to the general public”.

The news comes one week after twin bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and wounded 180 – and as Canada’s parliament debates a proposal to beef up anti-terror measures.