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Terrorism suspects appear in court in Canada

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-24 04:30

TORONTO - The two men accused of plotting what is believed to be the first al Qaeda terrorist attack in Canada appeared separately in court in Toronto and Montreal for a bail hearing Tuesday.

Raed Jaser, 35, did not enter a plea and waived his right to have the charges read against him after being charged with terrorism Monday and was remanded into custody until his next court hearing on May 23.

Jaser's lawyer, John Norris, was able to secure a publication ban on future evidence and testimony. Jaser is believed to be of Palestinian descent from the United Arab Emirates and has lived in Canada for the past two decades, according to Norris.

Sporting a long beard, Jaser was accompanied to court with seven family members, including people who identified themselves as his wife, mother and brother. He was also banned from communicating with his co-accused, Chiheb Esseghaier of Montreal, who faces the same terrorism charges.

Esseghaier appeared in a Montreal court and was also denied bail after stating that the charges against him "are drawn from facts and words that are not what they appear to be." He also dismissed his court-appointed lawyer and will likely face trial in Toronto where a warrant for his arrest is expected to be issued against him on Tuesday.

The 30-year-old is believed to be from Tunisia and is pursuing a Ph.D. in nanotechnology at the National Institute of Scientific Research outside Montreal.  

No details were available about Jaser. Neither man is a Canadian citizen.

While the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have not released details of the alleged terrorism plot, one Canadian media outlet reported Tuesday that Jaser and Esseghaier are accused of planning to attack an Amtrak passenger train on the Canadian side of the New York-Toronto route. However, Canadian police did say the planned attack had "direction and guidance" from al Qaeda in Iran, but did not believe the plot was state-sponsored.

The RCMP-led investigation, which included the US Federal Bureau of Investigations and reportedly the US Department of Homeland Security, began last August and is ongoing.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters Tuesday that Iran opposes "any terrorist and violent action that would jeopardize the lives of innocent people" and said groups, such as Al Qaeda, have "no compatibility with Iran in both political and ideological fields."

Canada ceased diplomatic relations with Iran last year after it closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa.

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