Apr 23, 2013

By Jane Brown

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We’re learning more about the two terrorism suspects who RCMP say were plotting to derail a VIA passenger train between Toronto and New York.

30 year old Chiheb Esseghaier of Montreal and 35 year old Raed Jaser of Toronto both face five charges, including conspiring with a terrorist group.

According to an online blog that was deleted shortly after his arrest was announced, the Tunisian born Esseghaier is an engineer, with a masters in industrial bio-technology from Tunis.  He began studying at Quebec’s University of Sherbrooke in 2008 and is currently listed as a doctoral student at the National Institute for Scientific Research, near Montreal.

Jaser is said to be of Palestinian descent and lived in the United Arab Emirates before moving here.  Neighbours confirm to the Toronto Star that he lived in a rented North York apartment but were unaware of his profession.

R-C-M-P Assistant Commissioner James Malizia says there was a foreign element to their alleged plot.  “The individuals were receiving support from Al-Qaida elements residing in Iran.  Now I can tell you that there is no information to indicate that these attacks were state sponsored.”

In fact, an Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman today, denies any link with the two suspects.  Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters today that there is “no firm evidence” of any Iranian involvement and groups such as al-Qaida have “no compatibility with Iran in both political and ideological fields.”  He called the Canadian claims part of hostile policies against Tehran.

The pair had allegedly been watching trains and railways in the Greater Toronto Area and were conspiring to derail a train between New York and Toronto.

The Mounties say they had placed the suspects under surveillance last August after receiving tips from the Muslim community.

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