Indian, Canadian Idol contestant held in Al Qaeda terror plotBy Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Thursday, August 26, 2010
TORONTO - Two Canadian Muslims - one reportedly hailing from India - arrested in an Al Qaeda-linked plot were charged with terrorism Thursday and remanded to police custody till Sep 1.
A Pakistani-origin third suspect named Khuram Sher, who had auditioned for Canadian Idol, was also nabbed Thursday morning.
Under what is curiously called “Project Samosa”, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested two suspects early Wednesday. One of them said to be named Misbahuddin Ahmed who reportedly comes from India.
It is the second Al Qaeda-linked terror plot to be unearthed in Canada after the Toronto-18 plot of 2006 in which 18 Toronto-area Muslims were arrested for plotting to blow up Canadian targets, storm parliament, take leaders hostage and behead the prime minister. Eleven of these plotters were convicted.
Terror suspects arrested Wednesday were under watch of the national security task force of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for months.
Authorities said the ringleader of the terror plot had travelled to the region between Pakistan and Afghanistan for training in weapons. Arrests were made when one of the suspects was about to travel abroad as part of the alleged plot, they said.
Though police didn’t name the suspects, one of them is said to be 36-year-old Misbahuddin Ahmed who worked as an X-ray technologist at an Ottawa hospital. Reports quoted sources as saying that Ahmed comes from India.
Robert Farrell, a former Canadian diplomat who rented his place to Ahmed, told the Ottawa Citizen newspaper that the suspect told him that he was born in India but had lived for a time in Saudi Arabia.
“We met his wife at the time (of renting). She seemed quite nice. She wore an Iranian-style head covering (hijab). They seemed to be more of a traditional Muslim family,” Farrell said.
Five kilometres away from Ahmed’s residence, police arrested another suspect Hiva Alizadeh.
Reacting to the unearthing of the terror plot, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said, “It is clear that Canada is not immune from international or homegrown radicalization. The government continues to participate in activities to better understand extremism throughout the world and the motivations of individuals who engage in terrorism.”
According to security experts here, homegrown terrorist cells are plotting to target Canadian power plants and transmission lines which carry electricity to the US.
“There are ways of attacking the US through Canada. The whole energy for New York comes from Quebec (province), for example,” security research expert Anthony Seaboyer was quoted as saying.
In fact, the famous Millennium Bomber Ahmed Ressam, an Al Qaeda-linked Algerian who lived illegally in Canada and had plotted to blow up Los Angeles in December 1999, had entered the US from Vancouver.
Though Canada has tightened anti-terror laws after 9/11, the Americans still find the response of its northern neighbour inadequate.
(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)