Canadian investigators believe they have thwarted a major terrorist attack after arresting Raed Jaser and his suspected accomplice Chiheb Esseghaier. The two Canadian residents were reportedly in the planning stages of an terrorist operations which involved derailing a busy passenger train traveling between New York and Toronto by detonating a bomb as it crossed the bridge into the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Raed Jaser, the 35-year old Canadian resident, now faces charges of conspiring to carry out an attack and murder people in association with al Qaeda.
Unlike co-conspirator Chiheb Esseghaier, information about Raed Jaser is particularly scarce. Here's what we've know so far. Stay tuned for updates.
1. Prominent Toronto Imam Reportedly Tipped Off Authorities about Jaser's Plot
According to the Daily Mail, Toronto's Muslim community assisted authorities in the arrests. Police revealed that a prominent imam had come forward to tip off the security services that at least one of the suspects may have been plotting an attack. It is believed that either of the two suspects probably met with people in the religious community.
Yusuf Badat, director of religious affairs for the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, told CBC that before Monday's press conference, Mounties met with Toronto Muslim leaders.
'Not too many details were shared. They did say a prominent community leader has come forward,' he said.
2. Jaser's House in Toronto Was Raided by Authorities and Evidence Removed
Police were seen raiding Jaser's house in a suburb in northern Toronto on Monday, carrying away material that could be used as evidence in the suspects' prosecution. Neighbors told the National Post that they had seen a group of young men in traditional Muslim garb weightlifting outside the home.
‘‘If I was outside, or getting into my car, he wouldn’t even say hello. He was a very reserved guy. They kept entirely to themselves,’’ said Sanjay Chaudhary, 47, who lives next door.
3.Jaser Has Links to Al-Qeada
During the Canadian police's press conference Monday, it was revealed that Jaser and his accomplice were receiving orders given by al-Qaeda leaders in Iran. Iran has since fervently denied involvement in the plot, alleging that there was 'not a shred of evidence' that al-Qaeda leaders were stationed in the country.
According to the Daily Mail, an Iranian foreign minister spokesman said on Iranian television that, 'The Islamic Republic of Iran is the biggest victim of terrorism, but the extremist administration of Canada has put Iranophobia on its agenda over the recent years.'
Iran, the Shi'a-majority country, is unlikely ally for the strongly Sunni Muslim terrorist group.
4. He's from the United Arab Emirates
Both suspects are not Canadian citizens, according to authorities. Multiple sources have indicated that Jaser is a Palestinian from the United Arab Emirates.
5. Appeared in Court April 23, Has New Court Date in May
According to the Huffington Post, Jaser's court appearance in Toronto this week was brief. Accompanied by his parents and brother, the suspected terrorist did not enter a plea and was given a new court date of May 23. He had a long beard and wore a black shirt with no tie. The court granted a request by his lawyer, John Norris, for a publication ban on future evidence and testimony.