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First picture of Canadian terror suspect as it's revealed Muslim leader alerted police about al-Qaeda plot to derail Toronto to New York train

U.S. and Canada foil Al Qaeda terrorist plot to derail New York to Toronto passenger train, two suspects arrested

Officials reportedly watched the men for several months and say the plot never got past the planning stages.

Chiheb Esseghaier, 35, a Ph.D. student studying in Montreal, (pictured left and right) was seen being led off of a plane in handcuffs after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police flew him to Toronto to appear in court today. His alleged co-conspirator Raed Jaser, 30, was arrested in Toronto on Monday. Canadian security authorities say the men were operating with the support of guidance of 'al-Qaeda elements in Iran.' Police have called it the first al-Qaeda-planned terrorist plot in Canada.

  • Chiheb Esseghaier, 35, and Raed Jaser, 30, were arrested yesterday
  • Suspected received orders and got guidance from Al Qaeda leader in Iran
  • Planned to target New York-bound train leaving from Toronto
  • Jaser's house in Toronto raided by police and evidence removed
  • Iran denies involvement or that the orders came from al-Qaeda leaders in the country
  • Prominent Toronto imam reportedly tipped off authorities about plot

The first image has emerged of one of the Canadian terror suspects who plotted to derail a New York-bound train as it crossed near the Niagara Falls.

Chiheb Esseghaier, 35, a Ph.D. student studying in Montreal, was seen being led off of a plane in handcuffs after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police flew him to Toronto to appear in court today. His alleged co-conspirator Raed Jaser, 30, was arrested in Toronto on Monday.

Canadian security authorities say the men were operating with the support and guidance of 'al-Qaeda elements in Iran.' Police have called it the first al-Qaeda-planned terrorist plot in Canada.

Neither man is a Canadian citizen, though both are in the country legally. Essaghaier is a graduate student studying material sciences at the Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique. He is from Tunisia. Jaser is reportedly a Palestinian from the United Arab Emirates. 

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Terror suspect: Chiheb Esseghaier, 35, a Ph.D. student from Montreal, is seen arriving in Toronto on Monday after he was arrested on terrorism charges

Terror suspect: Chiheb Esseghaier, 35, a Ph.D. student from Montreal, is seen arriving in Toronto on Monday after he was arrested on terrorism charges

Plot: Canadian security authorities say the men were operating with the support and guidance of 'al-Qaeda elements in Iran'

Plot: Canadian security authorities say the men were operating with the support and guidance of 'al-Qaeda elements in Iran'

Esseghaier is a Tunisian who was studying material sciences at Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique

Esseghaier is a Tunisian who was studying material sciences at Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique

It was revealed late Monday that a prominent imam in the Toronto Muslim community tipped off authorities about the plot.

Officials reportedly watched the men for several months and say the plot never got past the planning stages. Canadian counter-terrorism investigators say the public was never in danger, the the men would have carried out the attack if they had not been stopped.

The alleged plot is not believed to have any link with last week's Boston Marathon bombings. However, the CBC reports the American attacks spurred Canadian authorities to make arrests on Monday, fearing the suspects would move up the timeline of their plot.

Police were seen raiding Jaser's house in northern Toronto on Monday, carrying away material that could be used as evidence in the suspects' prosecution.

The two men allegedly planned to derail an Amtrak or Canadian Via train as it crossed over the Whirpool Rapids Bridge from Canada into the United States, according to reports.

The 115-year-old arch bridge spans the Niagara River 225 feet above the water.

'The plan was to take out a train with passengers on board and the crossing trestle,' a police source told the Toronto Sun. 'It was meant to be spectacular and there would have been a lot of carnage.'

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service worked with FBI agents and the Department of Homeland Security in taking down the plot.

Raid: Police were pictured at a house in Toronto yesterday in connection with a plot to blow up a train

Raid: Police were pictured at a house in Toronto yesterday in connection with a plot to blow up a train

 

Operation: The alleged would-be terrorists were under surveillance from Canadian police for over a year

Operation: The alleged would-be terrorists were under surveillance from Canadian police for over a year

 

Evidence: Offers were pictured carrying away material from the home in the north of the city

Evidence: Offers were pictured carrying away material from the home in the north of the city

 

The men allegedly watched trains and rail yards across the greater Toronto area to prepare for their assault.

'Today's arrests demonstrate that terrorism continues to be a real threat to Canada,' Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told reporters in Ottawa.

'Canada will not tolerate terrorist activity and we will not be used as a safe haven for terrorists or those who support terrorist activities.'

 

Authorities credited Toronto's Muslim community with assisting in the arrests. In a meeting the Muslim leaders, police revealed that a prominent imam had come forward to tip off the security services that at least one of the suspects may have been plotting an attack.

Yusuf Badat, director of religious affairs for the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, told CBC that before Monday's press conference, Mounties met with Toronto Muslim leaders.

'Not too many details were shared. They did say a prominent community leader has come forward,' he said.

Thwarted: The raid came in the wake of the arrest of two foreigners living in Canada with alleged Al Qaeda links

Thwarted: The raid came in the wake of the arrest of two foreigners living in Canada with alleged Al Qaeda links

 

Link: The house belongs to Raed Jaser, 32, one of the two men arrested on Monday

Link: The house belongs to Raed Jaser, 32, one of the two men arrested on Monday

 


Carried away: Some of the material removed from the home by police as part of their investigation

Carried away: Some of the material removed from the home by police as part of their investigation

Thwarted: The suspects were allegedly planning to derail a passenger train as it cross the Niagara River on the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge (pictured)

Thwarted: The suspects were allegedly planning to derail a passenger train as it cross the Niagara River on the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge (pictured)

Targeted: Authorities say Via Rail trains, Canada's national passenger rail service, were targeted by two accused terrorists

Targeted: Authorities say two accused terrorists conducted surveillance on Via Rail trains, Canada's national passenger rail service, with the intention of derailing one of the trains

Perhaps the biggest surprise to come out of the announcement is that the orders were given by al-Qaeda leaders in Iran.

Iran on Monday fiercely denied any involvement in the plot saying there was 'not a shred of evidence' that al-Qaeda leaders were operating from the country.

'The Islamic Republic of Iran is the biggest victim of terrorism, but the extremist administration of Canada has put Iranophobia on its agenda over the recent years,' an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said on Iranian state TV.

Iran, a Shi'a-majority country, is a strange ally for the fiercely Sunni Muslim terrorist group.

CNN reported last month that the few surviving members of Osama bin Laden's inner circle currently reside in Iran.

Some of bin Laden's family are said to be under house arrest in Tehran. Others - including top advisers - live in the ski resort city of Chalus on the Caspian Sea.

Video: Royal Canadian Mounted Police announce terror arrests

====

International terrorism: The suspects, who were based in Canada's two largest cities, planned to target trains between Toronto and New York

International terrorism: The suspects, who were based in Canada's two largest cities, planned to target trains between Toronto and New York

Canadian authorities, though, were careful to make clear that this was not an instance of state-sponsored terrorism.

'This is an example of the United States and Canada working together to protect our citizens,' said David Jacobson, the American ambassador to Canada.

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

Another instance of American-Canadian co-operation that has made headlines of late was the joint effort to extract U.S. embassy workers from Iran during the hostage crisis of 1979. 

Similarities: Today's arrests were the latest in a history of co-operation between American and Canadian authorities, another instance of which was the inspiration for the hit movie Argo (pictured)

Similarities: Today's arrests were the latest in a history of co-operation between American and Canadian authorities, another instance of which was the inspiration for the hit movie Argo (pictured)

Announcement: Authorities gave few details about the plot, but said the public was never in danger

Announcement: Authorities gave few details about the plot, but said the public was never in danger

In that instance, six Americans hid out in the Canadian embassy in Tehran for 79 days.

Another similarity between the international episodes is that the two terrorists arrested in Canada today were reportedly tied to al Qaeda operatives based in Iran.

The arrests follow not only the Boston bombings but revelations that Canadians took part in an attack by militants 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.

 A Via Rail train in Toronto, Canada.

Canadian law enforcement officials announced Monday that they had stopped an al-Qaeda-linked plot to derail a New York-to-Toronto VIA passenger train, and have arrested two suspects in Montreal and Toronto.

Two suspected Al Qaeda terrorists were busted Monday in Canada before they could wreak havoc on the rails by blowing up a New York-to-Toronto passenger train.

The plan hatched by Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser — and directed by Al Qaeda operatives based in Iran — was derailed by the Mounties before it ever got out of the station, officials said.

But it threw a scare into the Canadians, who have charged the alleged trainspotting terrorists with “terrorism-related offenses.”

“This is the first known Al Qaeda planned attack that we’ve experienced in Canada,” said Superintendent Doug Best of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Esseghaier, 30, lived in Montreal. Jaser, 35, lived in Toronto. And both were getting “direction and guidance” from their Al Qaeda handlers in Iran, the RCMP reported.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman gives announces arrest of two suspects with links to Al Qaeda attempting to attack VIA train.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman gives announces arrest of two suspects with links to Al Qaeda attempting to attack VIA train.

“Had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured,” Assistant RCMP Commissioner James Malizia said.

While the Canadians did not divulge the details of the terror train plot, sources familiar with the “Operation Smooth” investigation told the Daily News the plotters were targeting an Amtrak passenger train bound for Canada out of Penn Station in Manhattan.

When Amtrak trains cross the border, passengers switch to Canadian Via Rail trains.

Sources said the pair intended to attack the trains only after they'd left the U.S. and crossed into Canada.

But it wasn't clear precisely where the attack was to take place.

Members of the NYPD, Amtrak Police and other state, regional and local law enforcement discussed security along rail lines at a regular meeting of the NYPD and Amtrak-led Northeast Corridor Coalition at Police Headquarters April 10. The Coalition was established by Commissioner Kelly in August 2005 following the terrorist attacks on mass transit systems the month before in London.Members of the NYPD, Amtrak Police and other state, regional and local law enforcement discussed security along rail lines at a regular meeting of the NYPD and Amtrak-led Northeast Corridor Coalition at Police Headquarters April 10. The Coalition was established by Commissioner Kelly in August 2005 following the terrorist attacks on mass transit systems the month before in London.

“There was not an imminent threat to Amtrak passengers, employees or the general public,” Amtrak said in a statement.

Canadian officials said there did not appear to be any connection between the plot and the Boston bombings.

Esseghaier and Jaser are charged with conspiring to carry out an attack and murder people in association with a terrorist group. Both have a Tuesday court date.

Best did not divulge their homelands. But while neither are Canadian citizens, both have lived in Canada for “a significant amount of time” and had been planning their attack for more than a year, he said.

When the Canadians realized what the target was, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were alerted and joined in the probe.

“I commend our Canadian counterterrorism partners, particularly the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for their efforts in stopping a major terrorist plot which was intended to cause significant loss of human life including New Yorkers," said Rep. Pete King (R-Long Island), the chairman of the House Counterterrorism and Intelligence subcommittee.

"The Police Commissioner and the NYPD counter-terrorism officers have been kept apprised of this since early on in the Canadian investigation," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.

 



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Comment by Malcolm X on May 3, 2013 at 9:06pm

The Chickens will always come home to roost. USA was founded and made rich on slavery and stealing the Native Americans land. Once they got all they could out of this country they went for the oil. But thee people from there don't want what blacks and native americans got. Thank god the Native americans don't start bombing to get Manhattan back.

Comment by www.magicplus4u.com on April 25, 2013 at 6:20am
People don't watch movies soon we will be all locked down and summit too violate our privacy. We will be locked down
Comment by Roots aka TJ What De Ras on April 23, 2013 at 7:01pm
They need to stop this cause all they are doing is creating our rights to be violated with these searches
Comment by kk on April 23, 2013 at 2:38pm
why it's it so many educated people fall prey these distructive religions.
Comment by Kevin Reynolds on April 23, 2013 at 1:58pm

I hate to say it, but one will eventually get by undetected. These people seem willing to attack us at any cost. They will seek out soft targets... and it's difficult to defend these soft targets. We have to be the eye and ears of the security force. These terrorists have a tendency to be disguised as students before they attack - they assimilate well in society, and that's frightening.

Comment by Alan Murray on April 23, 2013 at 1:31pm
Don't they know we can get rid of them with 1 or 2 atomic bombs. Yet all they want to blow up a building or to & claim a victory
Comment by Incognito on April 23, 2013 at 1:10pm

Crazy thing about it is that many of these Jihadist are already here (in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, etc).  Right now it's pretty much about preventing the larger attacks, because the smaller ones are almost impossible to prevent...

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