2013 VIA Rail Canada terrorism plot

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2013 Disrupted Canadian Terrorism Plot
Raed Jaser is arraigned on terrorism-related charges in a Toronto courtroom.tiff
Courtroom sketch of Jaser being arraigned on special terrorism-related charges
Location Quebec, Canada and Ontario, Canada
Date between 1 April 2012 – 31 December 2012 per various terrorism-related criminal charges
22 April 2013 arrests by Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Target Railways in Canada
Attack type
Conspiracy
Non-fatal injuries
None
Perpetrators 2 suspects

The 2013 Via Rail Canada terrorism plot is an alleged conspiracy to commit terrorist acts in and against Canada in the form of disruption, destruction or derailment of trains operated by Canada's national passenger railway service, Via Rail Canada. The alleged targeted train route runs between Toronto and New York City.[1][2] The arrests occurred on 22 April 2013.[3]

The arrests were the culmination of an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canada's federal Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams. The RCMP and INSETs received cooperation and assistance from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Canada Border Services Agency. Provincial police forces involved were the Ontario Provincial Police and the Sûreté du Québec. Municipal police forces involved were the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, the Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police, Peel Regional Police, and the Durham Regional Police. Private security forces involved were corporate physical security teams from Via Rail Canada and CN Rail.[4]

In its interdiction, dubbed "Operation SMOOTH" by the RCMP, Canada received cooperation and assistance from the United States Department of Homeland Security, including the United States Transportation Security Administration, and the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.[5]

In an interesting twist a law firm that has been at the forefront in challenging Canadian anti-terror legislation, KSM Law, appears to have been instrumental in having one of their client's tip off authorities.[6] Lawyers Naseer Irfan Syed and Faisal Kutty are co-founders of this law firm. In an oped published in the Toronto Star, Faisal Kutty cited this as evidence that the Muslim community, while critical of rights abuses, is concerned about Canada's security as well.[7]

The two suspects, who are not Canadian citizens, were arrested by the RCMP and subsequently charged by the Crown in connection with the plot.[8]

Suspects[edit]

Chiheb Esseghaier,[9] a Tunisian citizen,[10] was arrested by RCMP in Montreal, and Raed Jaser,[11] a Palestinian citizen,[12] was arrested in Toronto. Special terrorism-related charges under section 83.24 of the Criminal Code entered by the Crown under consent of the Attorney General of Canada include conspiracy to carry out an attack, and to commit murder at the direction of, or in association with, a terrorist group.[13]

Chiheb Esseghaier[edit]

Canadian and American intelligence experts have linked the plot to involvement by Al-Qaeda elements (possibly Jundallah) based around the Iran–Pakistan barrier.[14][15][16] and Chiheb Esseghaier is known to have travelled to Iran.[17] At his arraignment before Justice of the Peace Susan Hilton in Toronto, Esseghaier repudiated the Criminal Code of Canada, under which he was charged. Esseghaier defiantly told the court, "it is not a holy book."[18] If convicted, he would receive a sentence of life imprisonment.[19] Esseghaier, who was a doctoral student at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique of the Université du Québec, was known for his disruptive and offensive behaviour, and was referred to by his neighbours as a "nightmare neighbour".[20][21] Esseghaier is believed to have been "radicalized" through contact with Ahmed Abassi, a 26-year-old Tunisian also arrested in connection with the plot by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York on 22 April.[22][23][24][25]

Raed Jaser[edit]

The contention that Jaser is truly stateless—for the purposes of the enforcement of immigration law and regulation and deportation under Canadian law—may be questionable, in that he was known to have travelled to the United Arab Emirates on a Jordanian passport several times as recently as September 2011.[26] He had been known to Canadian immigration officials since at least 2004, when Canada had commenced proceedings to deport him.[27] It appears, though, that this had been the conclusion of the panel considering his case, given that his deportation never actually occurred.[28] This may have been because he had arrived in Canada from Germany on falsified French travel documents.[29]

Among other claims pertinent to his bids to remain in Canada, Jaser had claimed that he had been harassed by anti-immigrant groups while living in Germany.[30] Jaser had a criminal record in Canada.[31] At one point in time, he had been employed driving a minivan transporting special-education students in a Toronto suburb.[32] He had been pardoned after conviction for the criminal offence of uttering a death threat.[33]

Investigation[edit]

Though the group linked to the plot is believed to operate out of Iran, it is not believed that they have received any Iranian state support, as historically Iran's regime has been officially hostile towards Al-Qaeda. While U.S. officials have claimed that Iran has given permission for Al-Qaeda to operate in Iran, the Iranian government has steadfastly denied any involvement, or even that Al-Qaeda has any operations on Iranian soil.[34] A statement released by Iran's mission to the United Nations stated "Iran's position against this group is very clear and well known...Al Qaeda has no possibility to do any activity inside Iran or conduct any operation abroad from Iran's territory, and we reject strongly and categorically any connection to this story."[35] In responding to the alleged connections to Iran, Peter T. King, a member of the United States House of Representatives and chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterintelligence and Terrorism stated "We know very little about al Qaeda's relationship with Iran."[36] However, Canadian official James Malizia stated "receiving support from al Qaeda elements in Iran.... When I speak about supported, I mean direction and guidance."

Representatives of Via have assured the public that, at no time were passengers in danger, as the plot was foiled before the men could put it into action.[36] Canadian officials would not release many details of the plot, but did explain that the plot was only in the planning stages, and was thwarted before it could be enacted. The CBC reports that the two men were under surveillance for over a year, and the RCMP confirms that the men "took steps and conducted activities to conduct a terrorist attack," such as monitoring trains in the Greater Toronto Area.

The case[edit]

Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were charged on 23 April 2013 by the Crown under special consent of the Attorney General of Canada, pursuant to section 83.24 of the Criminal Code of Canada. George Dolhai, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, entered charges under the Criminal Code of Canada against the two suspects.

Accusations[edit]

The Crown alleges, both in English and French, as follows:[37]

CONSENT OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA



Pursuant to section 83.24 of the Criminal Code I, the undersigned, George Dolhai, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions and Deputy Attorney General of Canada do consent to the commencement of proceedings against Chiheb ESSEGHAIER and Raed JASER in respect of the following offences:

1. Chiheb ESSEGHAIER and Raed JASER, between April 1st 2012 and September 25th, 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario, and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec, and elsewhere, did conspire, the one with the other, to interfere with transportation facilities contrary to section 248 of the Criminal Code of Canada, for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 83.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

2. Chiheb ESSEGHAIER and Raed JASER, between April 1st, 2012 and September 25th, 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec and elsewhere, did conspire, the one with the other, to murder persons unknown contrary to section 235(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 83.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

3. Chiheb ESSEGHAlER between April 1st, 2012 and September 25 th 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec and elsewhere, did knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity. thereby committing an offence contrary to section 83.18 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

4. Chiheb ESSEGlWER, between September 25th, 2012 and December 31st 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec and elsewhere, did knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 83.18 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

5. Raed lASER, between April 1st 2012 and September 25th, 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec and elsewhere, did knowingly participate in or contribute to, directly or indirectly, any activity of a terrorist group for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity, thereby committing an offence contrary to section 83.18 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

6. Chiheb ESSEGHAIER, between September 7th, 2012 and December 20th, 2012, in the City of Toronto, in the Province of Ontario and in the City of Montreal, in the Province of Quebec and elsewhere, did knowingly instruct, directly or indirectly, any person to carry out any activity for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a terrorist group, for the purpose of enhancing the ability of any terrorist group to facilitate or carry out a terrorist activity, contrary to section 83.21 of the Criminal Code of Canada."[38]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michelle Shepard and Andrew Livingstone (22 April 2013). "RCMP arrest two in alleged plot to derail Via Rail train". Toronto Star. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Ian Austen (22 April 2013). "Two Are Accused in Canada of Plotting Train Derailment". New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  3. ^ "Terrorism in Canada: Smoothly Done". The Economist. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 19 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Alleged 'al-Qaeda-supported' plot against Via train thwarted". CBC News. 22 April 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  5. ^ Jamie Sturgeon (22 April 2013). "‘Unprecedented' collaboration among Canada, US agencies preempted alleged terror plot". Global News. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Anna Mehler Paperny (24 April 2013). "Meet the Lawyer Linking Police with Torontos Muslim Community". Global News. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Faisal Kutty (25 April 2013). "Muslims hold key to fighting terror". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Blackwell, Tom (22 April 2013). "Two men arrested over 'al-Qaeda inspired' plan to attack a Via Rail train in Toronto area: RCMP". National Post. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  9. ^ http://news.nationalpost.com/tag/chiheb-esseghaier/
  10. ^ Associated Press (25 April 2013). "Tunisian Embassy says terrorism suspect arrested in Canada is a Tunisian citizen". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Bronskill, Jim (25 April 2013). "Raed Jaser, Canada Terror Suspect, Faced Deportation in 2004 Over Fraud Conviction". HuffPost Canada. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  12. ^ Sam Pazzano and Jessica Murphy (25 April 2013). "Accused Toronto terrorist's ordered deportation delayed by his statelessness". St. Catharines Standard. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  13. ^ "Via terror plot suspects deny allegations". CBC News. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  14. ^ Tu Thanh Ha, Colin Freeze and Daniel Leblanc (22 April 2013). "RCMP arrest two for 'al-Qaeda-supported' plot to bomb Via train". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  15. ^ Charmaine Noronha and Rob Gillies (23 April 2013). "Canada plot raises questions on Iran link to al-Qaeda". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  16. ^ Nasser Karimi (23 April 2013). "Iran calls link to suspects in alleged Via Rail train terror plot 'ridiculous'". The Province. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  17. ^ Patrick White (25 April 2013). "Via Rail plot’s alleged al-Qaeda-Iran connection spurs alarm in U.S.". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  18. ^ Timothy Appleby and Ann Hui (24 April 2013). "Criminal Code 'not a holy book,’ terror plot suspect says in rejecting charges". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  19. ^ Allison Jones (23 April 2013). "Suspects in alleged Via plot dispute charges". Maclean's. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  20. ^ Tristin Hopper (26 April 2013). "He would scream like a maniac at all hours': Via Rail terror suspect was a nightmare neighbour". National Post. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  21. ^ Andy Blatchford (25 April 2013). "Chiheb Esseghaier Neighbour Recalls Confrontations With Terror Suspect". HuffPost Canada. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  22. ^ Diana Mehta, The Canadian Press (9 May 2013). "Ahmed Abassi, Via Terror Suspect, Allegedly Talked Mass Bacteria Killing". HuffPost Canada. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  23. ^ Stewart Bell and Graeme Hamilton (10 May 2013). "Third suspect related to alleged Via Rail terror plan discussed bacteria plot to kill '100,000 people': documents". National Post. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  24. ^ Associated Press (10 May 2013). "Tunisian Man Charged in New York Terror Cell Plot". CBS New York. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  25. ^ Colin Freeze and Rhéal Séguin (9 May 2013). "FBI arrests Quebec student linked to Via terror suspect". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  26. ^ Alastair Macdonald (25 April 2013). "Canada Had Sought to Deport Suspect in Train Plot". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  27. ^ Colin Freeze (25 April 2013). "Canada failed to deport Via terror suspect nine years ago". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  28. ^ Stephen Levitz (26 April 2013). "Immigration minister to look at deportation issue in wake of terror arrest". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  29. ^ Michael Winter (25 April 2013). "Canada terror suspect avoided deportation in 2004". USA Today. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  30. ^ Adrian Humphreys and Stewart Bell (24 April 2013). "Man charged in Via derailment plot fled Germany after family 'terrorized' by anti-immigrant groups: documents". National Post. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  31. ^ Canadian Press (25 April 2013). "Conviction almost led to deportation of terror suspect". CP24. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  32. ^ Ann Hui (24 April 2013). "Via plot suspect Raed Jaser drove high school minivan for special ed students". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  33. ^ Adrian Humphreys and Stewart Bell (23 April 2013). "Toronto terrorism suspect Raed Jaser had 2001 death threat conviction pardoned". National Post. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  34. ^ Template:Reuters and WSJ.
  35. ^ Carter, Chelsea J. (22 April 2013). "Congressman: Thwarted terror plot targeted train from Canada to U.S.". CNN. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  36. ^ a b Macdonald, Alaistair; Siobhan Gorman; David George-Cosh (22 April 2012). "Canada Thwarts Alleged Plot to Attack Train". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  37. ^ "Charges against Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser". CBC News. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  38. ^ http://www.scribd.com/doc/137559184/Charges-against-Raed-Jaser-and-Chiheb-Esseghaier