Just over a week after the Boston Marathon bombing, authorities in Canada arrested two Canadian residents who were thought to have connections with Al-Qaida and accused them of planning to attack a passenger train from Toronto to New York. The arrest was made possible because of tips from the Muslim community.
Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto, were arrested Monday morning. They were charged with conspiring to carry out an attack against and conspiring to murder. They are also accused of being associated with terrorist group al-Qaida, according to Canadian authorities.
Police had Esseghaier and Jaser under surveillance since August. They were put on investigators' radar thanks to tips from the Muslim community, Supt. Doug Best said.
"The very first instance we were aware of the activities of one particular individual that yes, was brought to our attention by the community," he said.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police revealed that the suspects had been watching trains and railways in the Greater Toronto Area.
They wouldn't say how the suspects allegedly planned to attack, but said the plot had the "direction and guidance" from al-Qaida elements in Iran. It was not revealed whether the state of Iran had any involvement in the planned attack or not.
"While the RCMP believed the accused had the capacity and intent to carry out these criminal acts, there was no imminent threat to the general public, rail employees, train passengers or infrastructure," RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said at a news conference.
Several U.S. media reports cited sources familiar with the investigation, saying the alleged plot targeted a passenger train arriving in Toronto from New York City. Via Rail and Amtrak jointly operate trains between Canada and the U.S, according to CBN.
New York congressman Rep. Peter King praised Canadian authorities for the arrests.
"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," King said in a statement.