Canada's alleged al Qaeda-linked terror plot: What we know so far

Authorities have arrested two men suspected of planning to attack a Toronto-to-New York train

RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia speaks during a news conference in Toronto, Ontario, April 22.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Aaron Harris)

Canadian law enforcement officials announced Monday that they had arrested two men suspected of plotting to attack a train line between Canada and the United States.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that Chiheb Esseghaier of Montreal and Raed Jaser of Toronto had been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack. The RCMP said that the suspects had the "capacity and intent" to derail a Toronto-to-New York passenger train, but that an attack had not been "imminent."

"Had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured," James Malizia, Assistant RCMP Commissioner, said in an afternoon press conference.

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Authorities added that the suspects had been receiving "direction and guidance" from al Qaeda elements located in Iran, though they would not immediately specify the extent of that alleged tie. They also said that the two suspects are not Canadian citizens, but declined to divulge their nationalities.

"That is all the information we are in a position to share at this time," Malizia said when pressed for more details.

According to authorities, the plot is not linked to last week's attack on the Boston Marathon.

Details of the investigation are still emerging, and investigators were hesitant to share more than a few specifics at Monday's press conference. They would not specify how the two men planned to derail a train, nor would they say exactly which train line they planned to attack. They added that investigators were carrying out search warrants this afternoon, and would announce the results of their findings at a later time.

"We are alleging that these two individuals took steps and conducted activities to initiate a terrorist attack," Chief Superintendent Jennifer Strachan of the RCMP said Monday. Strachan said the two suspects had scoped out rail lines in the Toronto area. According to NBC, the two may have scouted trains departing from New York.

According to authorities, a joint effort between Canadian and American law enforcement groups — including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security — resulted in the arrests. Investigators said they'd been tracking the plot since last August. However, according to CBC News, the two suspects have been under surveillance for more than a year.

Both suspects will appear in a Toronto court Tuesday for bail hearings.

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