Canadian authorities announced Monday afternoon that two men were arrested earlier in the day for plotting to attack a Via passenger train.
The men, Chiheb Esseghaier of Montreal and Raed Jaser of Toronto, were planning to blow up a passenger train traveling between Toronto and New York City, Reuters reports, citing U.S. law enforcement. Via Rail offers one-way trips from Toronto to New York City for a little over $100.
"Charges include conspiring to carry out an attack against, and conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group," says a statement released by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The police statement said the investigation that produced the arrests was code-named Project Smooth and included "close collaboration" with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant RCMP Commissioner James Malizia said at an afternoon press conference that the men were supported by "al-Qaida elements in Iran," CTV reports. The men, Malizia said, are not Canadian citizens
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, citing unnamed law enforcement sources, reports that the men were under observation for more than a year. Sources also told the CBC that the plot was potentially more devastating than the one foiled in 2006 when police arrested 18 people for planning to blow up the Toronto Stock Exchange and Canadian parliament.
"While the RCMP believed that these individuals had the capacity and intent to carry out these criminal acts, there was no imminent threat to the general public, rail employees, train passengers or infrastructure," Malizia said at the afternoon press conference.
The plot exposed on Monday is not believed to be connected to last week's Boston Marathon bombing, U.S. sources told Reuters.
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