First al-Qaeda linked terrorist attack in Canada foiled

Via Rail passenger train  © Alan Macek / Wikimedia Commons /CC-BY-SA-3.0

Via Rail passenger train
© Alan Macek /Wikimedia Commons /CC-BY-SA-3.0

Two men linked to al-Qaeda groups in Iran have been arrested and charged with planning a terrorist attack on a Canadian train.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have announced Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, who live in Montreal and Toronto, had allegedly planned to derail a Via Rail passenger.

The two men were linked to gaining direction and guidance from al-Qaeda members in Iran, but police added there was no suggestion the planned attacks were state-sponsored nor did the men get financial support from al-Qaeda.

The investigation was a cross-border joint task force between the RCMP-led Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams in Montreal and Toronto, domestic partners and the FBI.

The two accused face charges including conspiring to carry out an attack against, and conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group.

Superintendent Doug Best stated: “This is the first known al-Qaeda-planned attack that we’ve experienced in Canada.”

According to the RCMP, the two men had the capacity and intent to carry out the terrorist attack but they posed no immediate threat to the general public.

The two allegedly took steps to initiate an attack by watching trains and railways. However, while the RCMP did not suggest they were targeting a cross-border route, reports from the US claim the plot involved derailing a New York-bound train as it crossed the Niagara River.

Assistant Commissioner James Malizia, responsible for Federal Policing Operations, added: “Each and every terrorist arrest the RCMP makes sends a message and illustrates our strong resolve to root out terrorist threats and keep Canadians and our allies safe.

“A meaningful response to these threats begins on Canadian streets and in Canadians homes and the RCMP works with all their partners, including communities across Canada, in the fight against terrorism.”

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