Police: 2 arrested in al-Qaida linked Canada plot

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Associated Press

Posted on April 23, 2013 at 6:43 AM

CHICAGO (AP) -- An 18-year-old who allegedly visited a sham FBI website to express interest in joining an al-Qaida-affiliated group in Syria is set to appear in a Chicago federal court. 

Abdella Ahmad Tounisi's appearance today follows his arrest at O'Hare International Airport as he prepared to board a plane.

The Aurora teenager allegedly wrote to an FBI agent posing as a terrorist recruiter that he was willing to die but had no fighting experience.

He's charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorism.

The complaint says Tounisi's a friend of Chicago-area teen Adel Daoud. Daoud is awaiting trial on charges he tried to detonate what he thought was a bomb last year outside a Chicago bar.

Tounisi's father, Ahmad Tounisi, has said his son would not have done what authorities allege.

Meantime, Iran is denying any link with two suspects charged with plotting a terrorist attack against a Canadian passenger train.

Canadian authorities claim the suspects -- 30 year-old Chiheb Esseghaier and 35-year-old Raed Jaser, -- had "direction and guidance" from al-Qaida members in Iran, though there was no allegations the planned attacks were state-sponsored.

"This is the first known al-Qaida planned attack that we've experienced in Canada," Superintendent Doug Best told a news conference. Officials in Washington and Toronto said it had no connections to last week's bombings at the marathon in Boston.

Esseghaier is believed to be Tunisian and Jaser is from the United Arab Emirates.

Some al-Qaida members were allowed to stay in Iran after fleeing Afghanistan but were under tight controls.

The arrests in Montreal and Toronto raised questions about Iran's murky relationship with the terrorist network. Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran who is now a Brookings Institution senior fellow, said al-Qaida has had a clandestine presence in Iran since at least 2001 and that neither the terror group nor Tehran speak openly about it.

"The Iranian regime kept some of these elements under house arrest," he said in an email to The Associated Press. "Some probably operate covertly. AQ members often transit Iran traveling between hideouts in Pakistan and Iraq."

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters Tuesday that there is "no firm evidence" of any Iranian involvement and groups such as al-Qaida have "no compatibility with Iran in both political and ideological fields."

He called the Canadian claims part of hostile policies against Tehran.

 

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