Canadian authorities have stopped a major terrorist plot that was aimed at a passenger train, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced Monday.
"This is the first known Al Qaeda planned attack that we've experienced in Canada," Superintendent Doug Best told reporters at a Monday afternoon news conference. Authorities said the plot was in the planning stage and an attack was not imminent.
"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," RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said in a statement. "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."
Authorities said that the suspects -- Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, who live in Montreal and Toronto areas -- are not Canadian citizens and they had a connection with Al Qaeda elements in Iran.
The men were planning to blow up a railroad bridge as a train crossed somewhere along the Toronto-to-New York route, sources told Fox News.
Via Rail, a Canadian railroad, and Amtrak operate a route from Ontario to New York that crosses near Niagara Falls.
"Amtrak is aware of the ongoing investigation and will continue to work with Canadian authorities to assist in their efforts," Amtrak said in a statement.
Canadian authorities say the men had been watching trains and railways in the Toronto region.
Authorities charged them with "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," the RCMP said in a statement.
An official said there is no current credible direct threat to New York City, Fox News reported. The suspects wanted to have an economic impact and make a big statement.
Canadian law enforcement agencies worked with the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in the case, the RCMP said.
U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., the chairman of a House panel on counterintelligence and terrorism, issued a statement praising the arrests.
"I commend our Canadian counterterrorism partners, particularly the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, for their efforts in stopping a major terrorist plot which was intended to cause significant loss of human life including New Yorkers," King said. "During my years on the Homeland Security Committee it has been my privilege to work with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canadian intelligence services and all counterterrorism units in Canada."
The news comes a week after two bombs detonated at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding dozens more, but officials said the Canada plot is not connected.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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