Canadian police say they have arrested two Muslims and thwarted a plot to carry out a major Islamic terrorist attack on a Via passenger train in the Greater Toronto Area.
The two Muslims are Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, from Toronto. They have been charged with conspiracy to carry out an Islamic terrorist attack and “conspiring to murder persons unknownn for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with an Islamic terrorist group.”
The two Muslims arrested are not Canadian citizens, police said Monday.
The RCMP accuses the two Muslims of conspiring to commit an “al-Qaeda-supported” attack.
Police said the two Muslims were getting “direction and guidance” from al-Qaeda elements in Iran. There was no information to suggest the attacks were state sponsored, police said.
Chief Supt. Jennifer Strachan said the two Muslims watched trains and railways in the Greater Toronto Area.
“We are alleging that these two individuals took steps and conducted activities to initiate a terrorist attack,” she told reporters.
Strachan said the attack was in the planning state but “not imminent.”
In a statement, RCMP said while they believe the individuals accused had the “capacity and intent” to carry out an attack, they believed there was “no imminent threat” to the public, rail employees, train passengers or infrastructure.
The two men are expected to appear at Old City Hall courthouse in Toronto tomorrow.
Had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured, RCMP assistant Commissioner Jammies Malizia told reporters on Monday.
Police said the investigation was ongoing, but declined to provide details.
Highly placed sources tell CBC News the Muslim plotters have been under surveillance for more than a year in Quebec and southern Ontario.
The investigation was part of a cross-border operation involving Canadian law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.