Canadian Police Foil Al-Qaeda-linked Train Plot

By:  Warren Mass
Canadian Police Foil Al-Qaeda-linked Train Plot

A Canadian police spokesman said they had arrested two men for plotting to derail a passenger train in a plot backed by al-Qaeda.

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) spokesman told reporters in Toronto on April 22 that the RCMP had arrested and charged two men with plotting to derail a Toronto-area passenger train. The police said the plot was backed by al-Qaeda elements in Iran.

"Had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured," said the RCMP official, James Malizia.

The RCMP identified the suspects as Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto, reported Reuters. Though neither man is a Canadian citizen, the police did not reveal their nationalities. Police were quick to note that the plot was not linked to the Boston Marathon bombings.

An article about the plot in the Globe and Mail (Canada’s largest-circulation national newspaper) reported that the initial investigation into the plot began when a Muslim imam phoned in a tip to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and RCMP. 

“More than a year ago, a client of mine, an imam in the Toronto Muslim community, became concerned after noticing the activities of one of the individuals now under arrest,” Toronto lawyer Naseer Syed told the Globe and Mail.

Because he became alarmed by Jaser’s “attempts to approach young Muslims,” the imam “took the initiative to notify the authorities,” Syed said.

The Canadian newspaper noted that police detectives asserted the pair of suspects relied on “direction and guidance” from al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in Iran as they plotted carnage in Canada. “This is the first known al-Qaida planned attack that we've experienced in Canada,” Police Superintendent Doug Best said at a news conference.

Shortly before police officials held the news conference at which they announced the details of the plot, they invited about 20 leaders of Toronto’s Islamic community to a meeting. Hussein Hamdani, a Muslim lawyer who was invited to the pre-briefing, said the police used the meeting as an opportunity to acknowledge the helping hand of those who had provided them with valuable information: “The first comment they made, and they encouraged us to make it a talking point, is that, but for the Muslim community’s intervention, we may not have had the success we’ve had.”

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