Man reportedly arrested in terror probe appeared on “Canadian Idol”

By Rob Gillies, AP
Thursday, August 26, 2010

2 terrorism suspects appear in court in Canada

TORONTO — A man who appeared on Canada’s version of “American Idol” has been arrested as part of an alleged homegrown plot and two other suspects made a brief appearance in court on Thursday.

Police arrested two Ottawa residents Wednesday. Royal Canadian Police Sgt. Marc LaPorte said police arrested Khuram Sher in London, Ontario on Thursday.

Hiva Alizadeh and Misbahuddin Ahmed appeared in court Thursday.

According to documents filed in provincial court in Ottawa, all three conspired with an additional three named individuals to “knowingly facilitate terrorist activities” in Canada and abroad.

Sher appeared on the reality show “Canadian Idol” in 2008 in which he sings a comical version of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated,” complete with dance moves that include a moonwalk. He told the judges he’s from Pakistan and likes hockey, music and acting. Police didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking confirmation Sher was arrested.

A government official has described it as a homegrown plot targeting Canada. The official was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Officials have declined to specify the allegations. Police were giving a news conference Thursday afternoon.

A judge remanded Alizadeh and Misbahuddin in custody until they appear again, by video, next Wednesday.

Ahmed’s lawyer, Ian Carter, said the charges are serious and his client, a husband and father, could be put away “for a long time.”

“He is in shock. That’s all I can say,” Carter said.

Police descended on a home in Canada’s national capital of Ottawa early Wednesday. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a news release they were executing search warrants in connection with the case.

Matthew Weiler, a neighbor, said a man and woman had lived at the address for at least six months and that the woman usually was veiled in public.

Carolina Ayala, who lives four doors down from the couple, said she saw the man wearing blue hospital scrubs and thinks he may have worked at a hospital.

A few miles away a police car sat outside an apartment building where a second raid was carried out.

The arrests come four years after the apprehension of the so-called Toronto 18, suspects in a homegrown terror plot that involved the attempted setting off of truck bombs in front of Canada’s main stock exchange and two government buildings. The ringleaders and others have been convicted.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Dick Fadden alluded to the possibility of other homegrown terrorist cases in comments to a Parliament public safety committee last month.

(This version CORRECTS Updates with police confirming third man arrested. Corrects name to Misbahuddin Ahmed instead of Ahmed Misbahuddin. Police press conference is underway. For global distribution.)

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