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Canada foils al-Qaeda-supported terror plot with 2 arrests: police


08:16, April 23, 2013

TORONTO, April 22 (Xinhua) -- Canada has foiled an al-Qaeda- supported terror plot against a domestic passenger train by arresting two men in Toronto and Montreal, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed Monday afternoon.

The two suspects, Chiheb Esseghaier, 30 of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35 of Toronto, have been under surveillance for more than a year and the action to thwart their terrorist plot to attack a VIA passenger train was made a success with the help from U.S. authorities, Chief Supt. Jennifer Strachan said in a press conference.

VIA is an independent crown corporation offering intercity passenger rail services in Canada.

Strachan said that innocent people could not have been killed or injured and now with the two arrests, RCMP believe there was " no imminent threat" to the public, rail employees, train passengers or infrastructure.

RCMP charge the two suspects of "conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group."

Police said neither of the two suspects is a Canadian citizen and they had received direction and guidance from "al-Qaeda elements" in Iran, but not state-sponsored terrorism.

But police did not specify which VIA rail route was targeted, although the link between Toronto and New York was reported in the Canadian media.

No details were given as to how the accused planned to carry out their attack or from where they originated.

Canadian officials said there were no links between the two suspects and the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

The two men are scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for a bail hearing.

Named project SMOOTH, the RCMP-led investigation involved the U. S. Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Canada Border Services Agency and several police forces in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

"Canada will not tolerate terrorist activity and we will not be used as a safe haven for terrorists or those who support terrorist activity," Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a brief statement to the media.

U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson said the arrests are an example of collaboration between the United States and Canada to protect their citizens.

"It underscores the fact that we face serious and real threats, and that security is a shared responsibility," said the ambassador in a statement. "We all need to remain vigilant in confronting threats and keeping North America safe and secure."

Monday's arrests come on the day when a debate began in the Canadian House of Commons over legislation that would give police more powers in the event of a terrorist attack.

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