The 21st Century Phenomenon



Canadian authorities said, on Monday 04/22/2013, they have arrested and charged two men, Chiheb Esseghaier (pic), 30,  probably the ringleader, and  Raed Jaser, 35, rom the Montreal and Toronto areas respectively, with an Al Qaeda-linked plot to “carry out a terrorist attack” against a passenger train.   

Chiheb Esseghaier was studying for a doctorate at the National Institute for Scientific Research near Montreal, while Raed Jaser reportedly worked as a customer service agent at a removal firm.

An agent posed as an Egyptian-American real estate developer who had been radicalised, and recorded 25 hours of conversations between him and the two men, the CBC reports.

“The RCMP is alleging that Chiheb Esseghaier, a Tunisian born resident of Toronto and Raed Jaser, a Palestinian with citizenship in the United Arab Emirates (see – Gulf Emirates ), who has permanent resident status in Canada, were conspiring to carry out an Al Qaeda-supported attack against a VIA passenger train,” RCMP official James Malizia said. They allegedly planned to derail a train in the greater Toronto area, but it is not clear when. Chief Spt Jennifer Strachan said the two men had sought to target “a specific route, but not necessarily a specific train”. “As I understand it, it was a train going from Canada to the U.S.,” Rep. Peter King, R-New York, chairman of the counterterrorism and intelligence subcommittee, said.

The police told a news conference the suspects “were receiving support from Al Qaeda elements located in Iran” but added “there’s no indication that these attacks were state-sponsored”. The pair, who are not Canadian citizens, were expected to appear in court in Toronto on Tuesday for a bail hearing.

Officials in Washington and Toronto said there were no connections to last week’s Boston Bombings. Canadian police and intelligence agencies said the operation to foil the plot was conducted in coordination with the USA Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The arrests raised questions about Iran’s relationship with Al Qaeda (see – IRANS Interest ). The State Department described Iran for years as key facilitators in sending fighters to Iraq and Afghanistan.

A spokeswoman for the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique near Montreal confirmed that Chiheb Esseghaier was a doctoral student at the Quebec research institute and that he had been arrested. “He had very strict religious behaviour that made many people frustrated,” said a colleague in the institute.

Julie Martineau, the school’s director of communications, said Chiheb Esseghaier arrived at the school in 2010 and was about midway through his degree. “He is doing a PhD in the field of energy and materials sciences,” she told Reuters.

In 2006, Canadian authorities arrested at least 18 suspects reportedly linked to a terror plot, involving attacks on the parliament and a major broadcast company (see – Toronto 06 cell ).

 * According to sources in the RCMP a members of Canada’s Muslim community, an Imam, helped tip off authorities to a terrorist plan to attack a train, allegedly devised by two men working with al Qaeda.

* Raed Jaser, 35, was convicted of threatening death in 2001, about the same time his father asked for help in dealing with his son’s hardening views of Islam, receiving a sentence of two years’ probation and a $1,000 fine, but his record was recently cleared after he applied for — and received — a pardon, the National Post has learned, on 04/23/2013. 

The circumstances of the threat are unknown but a previous charge of fraud, laid in 1995, was stayed in 1996 after being diverted to an alternate form of resolution, according to court records.

Raed Jaser’s father had been concerned about his son and approached a Toronto Muslim leader, Mohammed Robert Heft, several years ago with his concerns. 

Chiheb Esseghaier – who served as his own defence – told the court in Toronto that he only wanted to be judged by the Koran.

Defence lawyers for Raed Jaser argued he was not interested in extremism but was trying to extract money from Esseghaeir and an undercover FBI agent.

Jurors spent 10 days in deliberations before, on 03/20/2015,  returning guilty verdicts in eight out of nine charges.



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