Ottawa: Two foreign nationals have been arrested in Canada in connection with an Al Qaeda-supported plot to derail a passenger train in the Toronto area, authorities said.
Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, were allegedly planning to carry out an attack on a Via Rail passenger train with help from Al Qaeda in Iran, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) told reporters on Sunday.
The suspects "were receiving support from Al Qaeda elements located in Iran" and that "there's no indication that these attacks were state-sponsored," a spokesman said.
The plot "involved a domestic attack (with) planning being supported by Al-Qaeda. And when I speak about support, of course, I mean direction and guidance," he added.
Authorities said the pair are "not Canadian citizens" but declined to reveal their respective nationalities. The main suspect lived in Montreal for several years, another official added.
The suspects' plans were "not based on their ethnic origins but on an ideology," police said.
They are expected to appear in court on Monday for a bail hearing. Charges include conspiring to carry out an attack and conspiring with a terrorist group to murder people.
Police said the duo planned "to derail a passenger train," though they wouldn't specify on which route.
The two suspects had been under surveillance since last August. "They watched trains and railways in the Toronto area" in planning the attack, an official said.
"We are alleging these individuals took steps and conducted activities to initiate a terrorist attack. They watched trains and railways in the Greater Toronto area."
However, authorities said an attack was not imminent. "While the RCMP believed that these individuals 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," said a statement.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation was also involved in the criminal investigation.
The arrests come a week after twin bombings at the Boston Marathon killed three people and wounded 200, and as Canada's parliament debates a proposal to beef up anti-terror measures.


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