April 22, 2013 — -- Canadian authorities foiled a plot by two men they said were backed by al Qaeda to blow up and derail a Toronto passenger train, police said today.
The pair received guidance and training from al Qaeda-related individuals in Iran and had begun surveilling passenger trains in the Toronto area to plan for the attack, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which spoke this afternoon about the arrests.
Police made the arrests after an eight-month investigation that involved the FBI and was dubbed "Operation Smooth," the RCMP said today.
Police arrested Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto, and the pair will face charges of conspiring to carry out an attack and conspiring to murder individuals for the benefit of a terrorist group, police said.
The men were not Canadian citizens, though police would not say where they came from or how long the men had been in the country.
They will face a bond hearing in Canadian court Tuesday, police said.
According to the details released by the RCMP, the suspects planned to derail a VIA commuter train and kill or injure passengers on board and had begun studying and watching the trains in the Toronto area.
"We believe they had the capacity and intent to carry out these attacks, but that there was no imminent threat to passengers, trains or infrastructure," Chief Supt. Jennifer Strachan said.
Officers executed search warrants on Essaghaier's and Jaser's residences today, police said.
The officials described the plot as in the "planning stage" and stressed that an attack was not imminent.
They declined to give any details on the type or timeframe of the planned attack.