Police official tells reporters Chiheb Esseghaier of Montreal, Raed Jaser of Toronto arrested in connection with plot 'supported by al-Qaeda elements in Iran.' Minster: Canada will not be used as safe haven for terrorists
The RCMP said it had arrested Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto in connection with the plot, which authorities said was not linked to the Boston Marathon bombings,
but likely had connections to al-Qaeda.
"The RCMP is alleging that Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were conspiring to carry out an al Qaeda-supported attack against a VIA passenger train," Malizia said.
According to Malizia, the plot was supported by "al-Qaeda elements in Iran."
VIA is Canada's equivalent of Amtrak, operating passenger rail services in Canada.
US officials said the attack would have targeted a rail line between New York
and Toronto, but Canadian police did not confirm that.
Police said various Canadian security forces had conducted joint operations in the two cities.
'Attack would have targeted rail line between New York, Toronto (Photo: Reuters)
The arrests follow not only last Monday's Boston Marathon bombings in which three people were killed and more than 200 injured but revelations that Canadians took part in an attack by terrorists on a gas plant in Algeria in January.
It also recalls the arrests in 2006 of a group of more than a dozen Toronto-area men accused of planning to plant bombs at various Canadian targets. Eleven men were eventually convicted of taking part on the plot.
"Today's arrests demonstrate that terrorism continues to be a real threat to Canada," Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told reporters in Ottawa.
Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Photo: AP)
"Canada will not tolerate terrorist activity and we will not be used as a safe haven for terrorists or those who support terrorist activities."
Earlier Monday, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was charged by federal prosecutors in his hospital room with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill - a crime that carries a possible death sentence.
Officials have said Tsarnaev, 19, and his older brother
set off the two pressure-cooker bombs at last week's race that sprayed shrapnel into the crowds, killing three people and wounding more than 180. His brother, Tamerlan, 26, died Friday after a fierce gunbattle with police.
Tsarnaev was listed in serious but stable condition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, unable to speak because of a gunshot wound to the throat.
In a criminal complaint outlining the evidence, the FBI said Tsarnaev was seen on surveillance cameras putting a knapsack on the ground near the site of the second blast and then manipulating a cellphone and lifting it to his ear. The complaint contains the charges shed no light on the motive for the attack.
After the first explosion ripped through the crowd, a calm-looking Tsarnaev quickly walked away, and about 10 seconds later, the second blast occurred where he left the knapsack, the FBI said.
The FBI did not make it clear whether authorities believe he used his cell phone to detonate one or both of the bombs or whether he was talking to someone.
The court papers also said that during the long night of crime Thursday and Friday that led to the older brother's death and the younger one's capture, one of them told a carjacking victim: "Did you hear about the Boston explosion? I did that."
Tsarnaev was charged with using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against persons and property, resulting in death. He is also likely to face state charges in connection with the shooting death of a university police officer.
The Obama administration said it had no choice but to prosecute Tsarnaev in the federal court system. Some politicians had suggested he be tried as an enemy combatant in front of a military tribunal, where he would be denied some of the usual US constitutional protections.
But Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen from Russia who has lived in the United States for about a decade, is a naturalized US citizen, and under US law, American citizens cannot be tried by military tribunals, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Carney said that since the Sept. 11 attacks, the federal court system has been used to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists.