Canadian police officials have linked the plotting of two Muslim men to destroy a Toronto passenger train to al Qaeda’s network inside Iran. The two suspects, neither of whom are Canadian citizens, were taken into custody yesterday and are facing terrorism charges. One of the suspects had placed an image of al Qaeda’s banner in a social media site. The image has since been removed.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said yesterday that the two suspects, identified as Chiheb Esseghaier, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, of Toronto, received “support from al Qaeda elements located in Iran,” in the form of “direction and guidance.” The two men’s plot called for the destruction of a train bound from the US to Canada in an effort to sow terror and harm the economies of both countries.
Esseghaier, a doctoral student at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, has a bachelors degree in Industrial Biology and a masters degree in Industrial Biotechnology, according to his Linkedin page. He lists Nanotechnology as one of his “Skills & Expertise.” He attended college in Tunis and is thought to be a Tunisian.
Before the image was taken down sometime last night, Esseghaier’s Linkedin page displayed in image of al Qaeda’s black flag. This flag was first used by al Qaeda in Iraq but has been adopted by other al Qaeda affiliates.
The remainder of the article is a good backgrounder on the Iran-al Qaeda relationship, including at least a couple of “secret agreements” that allow al-Qaeda transit through Iran.
While the above quote doesn’t claim a direct Iranian role in the plot, unlike the statement quoted in the Washington Examiner piece yesterday, I think it’s reasonable to assume the Iranians at some level knew and approved of what the two were planning and the encouragement al-Qaeda gave them. Al-Qaeda is in the country on their sufferance, and there is no way Tehran is not going to keep tabs on what they’re doing, lest they unexpectedly find themselves the targets of retaliation after, say, another 9/11-style attack. So, while there’s no direct evidence of Iranian foreknowledge, it’s a safe bet they did.
Which should make the next meeting Canada and Iran’s diplomats quite… interesting.
Also, while there’s a coincidence in time, there’s no evidence I’ve seen of a connection between the train plot and the Boston Marathon attacks. What I do think it hints at, however, is just how many jihad plots there are “out there,” waiting to be put into action. Again, if Esseghaier and Jaser were a pair of “lone wolves” encouraged by al-Qaeda, similar to what may be the truth about the Tsarnaevs, how many others are out there?
Comforting thought, no?
(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)