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Canadian officials halt terror plot

April 22, 2013

Canadian police and intelligence agents, in a joint operation with the U.S. Homeland Security officials, arrested two men accused to plotting to derail a Toronto-based passenger train on April 22.

"Had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured," said Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Assistant Police Commissioner James Malizia to reporters following the arrests. 

Links to al Queda 
The RCMP reportedly arrested Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto and Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal in connection with the plan to derail the Via passenger train that runs from Canada to the United States. Police officials have also said that they believe the two men were supported by al Qaeda operatives in Iran. If true, this would be the first known al Qaeda- backed plot on Canadian soil. Malizia did note that the possible support referred to the  two men receiving guidance from not evidence of direct state sponsor ship. 

Iranian officials for their part are denying any involvement. 

"If the news that you are announcing is true, this is the most hilarious thing I've heard in my 64 years," Iran Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi stated according to the ISNA news agency. "We hope Canadian officials show a little wisdom and pay attention to the world's public opinion and intelligence."

The RCMP also noted that though they believed the suspects had the intent and capacity to carry out an attack on the passenger rail line, they did not think there was any immanent threat to human life or infrastructure.

Bail denied for one suspect
The first hearing in the case  for Raed Jaser was held in Toronto the day after arrests were made, where he was denied bail. His lawyer says that his client is in a state of shocked disbelief and denies involvement in any terrorist plot. 

Chiheb Esseghaier is scheduled to have his first hearing in the case April 24 in Montreal.  According to official charging documents, both men are held on accusations of conspiring "to murder persons unknown ... for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group," reports CNN. 

Neither of the two suspects are Canadian citizens and there is no official report on how long either have been in the country. 

Both Canadian and American officials report this incident is not connected to the bombings that took place during the Boston Marathon a week before the arrests were made. 

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