Canadian authorities arrested two suspects, Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto, linking them to extremist al-Qaida factions based in Iran yesterday. The two were arrested for allegedly planning an attack against a jointly run Canadian/American passenger rail service connecting Toronto and New York. While no accusations were leveled against the state of Iran, it took no time for the omnipresent rhetoric of the Iranian government and its ministers to begin in earnest.
Iran’s foreign minister rejected as “ridiculous” Canada’s claim that the two arrested were backed by al-Qaeda in Iran.
“If the news that you are announcing is true, this is the most hilarious thing I’ve heard in my 64 years,” the ISNA news agency reported Iran Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi saying today. “We hope Canadian officials show a little wisdom and pay attention to the world’s public opinion and intelligence.”
Shifting to another mouthpiece……
“No shred of evidence regarding those who’ve been arrested and stand accused has been provided,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, according to the Mehr news agency. While he’s correct, it stands to reason that the Canadian and U.S. governments must have had some reason to believe otherwise before launching search warrants on multiple locations throughout two Canadian provinces.
His righteous indignation then switched into attack mode, “In recent years, Canada’s radical government has put in practice a project to harass Iran and it is clear that it has pursued these hostile actions,” he added.
A US government source said Iran was home to a little-known network of al-Qaida fixers and “facilitators” based in the Iranian city of Zahedan, very close to Iran’s borders with both Pakistan and Afghanistan. He did not suggest that they were working in conjunction with the Republic of Iran.
Canadian authorities arrested two suspects, Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto, both appeared in separate courts and gave every indication that they would fight the charges brought against them.
“He’s in a state of shock and disbelief,” lawyer John Norris said of his client, 35-year-old Raed Jaser. “He’s anxious to see the evidence that the Crown says it has against him.
More details will certainly come to light as proceedings move forward in this case and perhaps an apology from one side or the other will be forthcoming.