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Is Iran working with al-Qaeda to plot terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Canada and the United States? Canadian authorities say yes and they moved this week to arrest two men planning to blow up a passenger train in or near Toronto.
“Police say they have arrested two men accused of conspiring to carry out an ‘al-Qaeda supported’ attack targeting a Via passenger train in the Greater Toronto Area, following a cross-border investigation that involved Canadian and American law enforcement,” reports CBC News. “In a press conference that followed a report by CBC’s Greg Weston, police named the two accused as Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, from Toronto. They have been charged with conspiracy to carry out a terrorist attack and ‘conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group.'”
CBC News noted that “the plot is reminiscent of another that was broken up in the summer of 2006, when police arrested 18 people in a massive anti-terrorism sweep in southern Ontario. Eleven of the 18 were subsequently convicted of aiding the group in various plots, ranging from blowing up the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill and the Toronto Stock Exchange with trucks laden with explosives to beheading the prime minister and other politicians. The group never got a chance to execute any of its plans before being arrested when one of its members took delivery of what they thought were three tonnes of fertilizer to be used in truck bombs. Undercover agents had replaced the shipment with harmless chemicals.”
“The news that Canadian law enforcement on Monday arrested two men accused of planning to derail a passenger train in the Toronto area has attracted much attention, in part, because the plotters are also charged with ‘receiving support from al Qaeda elements in Iran,'” reports CNN’s Peter Bergen. “If these allegations are true, it would appear to be the first time that al Qaeda elements based in Iran have directed some kind of plot in the West. And it also underlines the perplexing relationship between the Shia theocratic state of Iran, which the Sunni ultra-fundamentalists who make up al Qaeda regard as heretical but with which they have had some kind of a marriage of convenience for many years.”
Bergen also notes:
- While there isn’t evidence that al Qaeda and the Iranian government have ever cooperated on a terrorist attack, al Qaeda’s ties to Iran, surprising perhaps to some, stretch back more than a decade.
- As recently as October, the U.S. Treasury named as terrorists six al Qaeda members living in Iran who it alleged were sending fighters and money to Syria to fight Bashar al-Assad’s regime and were also funding terrorism in Pakistan.
- Al Qaeda’s Iranian presence began after the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan during the winter of 2001 when some of Osama bin Laden’s family and his top lieutenants fled to neighboring Iran, where they lived under some form of house arrest.
- They included Saif al-Adel, the Egyptian military commander of al Qaeda; Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, bin Laden’s son-in-law and spokesman; and Saad bin Laden, one of the al Qaeda leader’s older sons who has played a leadership role in his father’s organization.
- Saad helped bin Laden’s oldest wife, Khairiah bin Laden, and a number of his father’s children to move to Iran in 2002.
- Bin Laden’s sons Ladin, Uthman and Muhammad and his daughter Fatima, who is married to Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, settled in Tehran, the Iranian capital.
- To learn more about Damascus Countdown, a 2013 political thriller about an Israeli first strike on Iran and the retaliation of Iran and Syria, please click here.
- To learn more about Dead Heat, a 2008 political thriller about a North Korean preemptive nuclear strike against four American cities, please click here.
- Follow Joel on Twitter — @joelcrosenberg
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