Canadian officials say that they have thwarted a major terrorism plot involving derailing a passenger train headed from Canada to the United States, and that two people have been arrested.
Canadian mounties say that the two were working with aide from “al-Qaeda in Iran,” a group whose very existence is unclear at best, since al-Qaeda has long been openly hostile to Iran and has historically limited its involvement inside Iran to backing secessionist groups like Jundallah.
Officials also say that the plot, such as it was, was still in the very early planning stages and that there was no imminent threat, sparking immediate concerns about the timing of the arrests.
Today was the first day of debates for S-7, a harsh new anti-terrorism law that was seen having an uphill battle in parliament. Conservatives had been pushing for it to be fast-tracked in the wake of the Boston bombing, and the timing of today’s arrests suggests an effort to sell more MPs on the “need” for broad new police powers.
The two arrested men have been identified as Chiheb Esseghaier, a Tunisia-born PhD candidate at Université du Québec, and Raed Jaser, a Palestinian living in Toronto. Little is known about Jaser, but Esseghaier’s Linkedin Profile is reported to have a picture of the flag of al-Qaeda in Iraq’s umbrella group, suggesting the “Iran” links may simply have been a mistake.