Canadian police say they have thwarted a deadly al-Qaeda-supported plan to derail a passenger train as it crossed the Whirpool Rapids Bridge connecting Canada to the United States, plunging its many would-be victims 225 feet into the raging Niagara River.
“After an extensive and complex criminal investigation,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) representatives said during a Monday press conference, police arrested and charged two individuals with terrorism related offenses.
The suspects have been identified as 30-year-old Chiheb Esseghaier and 35-year-old Raed Jaser of Montreal and Toronto, respectively.
Police said the men are not Canadian citizens, but wouldn’t say where they are from. They face charges of conspiring to carry out an attack and murder people in association with a terrorist group.
A source said the “Amtrak Maple Leaf line, which runs from Toronto to New York City, was targeted,” the Daily Mail notes, citing Reuters. “Canadian officials declined to confirm which trains were in the crosshairs.”
Police later added that the suspects received assistance from al-Qaeda figures in Iran, but said there is no indication the alleged plot was state-sponsored. They say the al-Qaeda support was in the form of “direction and guidance.”
Reuters sources reportedly added: “U.S. security and law enforcement sources [said] the suspects had sought to attack the railroad between Toronto and New York City.”
Canadian officials say they “believe the accused had the capacity and intent to carry out these criminal acts,” but assured the public it was in no danger.
The counter-terror operation, which went on for more than a year, was conducted in close coordination with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The agencies add that the terror-plot never got past the planning stages.
“Each and every terrorist arrest the RCMP makes sends a message and illustrates our strong resolve to root out terrorist threats and keep Canadians and our allies safe,” Assistant Commissioner James Malizia declared. “A meaningful response to these threats begins on Canadian streets and in Canadians homes and the RCMP works with all their partners, including communities across Canada, in the fight against terrorism.”
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation adds: “Law enforcement officials say the terror suspects arrested today have no connection to the two brothers accused of last week’s Boston Marathon bombings.”
Watch Assistant RCMP Commissioner James Malizia reveal the details at the press conference:
TheBlaze’s Becket Adams contributed to this report. This post has been updated.