Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 24, 2013

Bridge commission says it knew nothing of terror plot

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters on Tuesday that groups such as al-Qaida have “no compatibility with Iran in both political and ideological fields.”

”We oppose any terrorist and violent action that would jeopardize lives of innocent people,” he said.

Mehmanparast called the Canadian claims part of hostile policies against Tehran, and accused Canada of indirectly aiding al-Qaida by joining Western support for Syrian rebels. Some Islamic militant factions, claiming allegiance to al-Qaida, have joined forces seeking to topple the regime of Bashar Assad, one of Iran’s main allies in the region.

The two countries have no diplomatic relations after Canada unilaterally closed its embassy in Tehran in 2012 and expelled Iranian diplomats from Ottawa.

Police said the men are not Canadian citizens and had been in Canada a “significant amount of time,” but declined to say where they were from or why they were in the country.

Norris, Jaser’s lawyer, said his client would “defend himself vigorously” against the accusations, and noted his client was a permanent resident of Canada who has lived there for 20 years. He refused to say where Jaser was from, saying that revealing his nationality in the current climate amounted to demonizing him.

The investigation surrounding the planned attack was part of a cross-border operation involving Canadian law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Canadian police said the men never got close to carrying out the attack.

RCMP chief superintendent Jennifer Strachan said Monday that Jaser and Esseghaier were targeting a route, but did not say whether it was a cross border route.

In New York, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne declined to discuss reports that the plot targeted a passenger line between New York City and Canada. However, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that Canada has kept New York posted on the investigation.

”I can just tell you that you are probably safer in New York City than you are in any other big city,” Bloomberg told reporters Tuesday without discussing details.

Police in Canada said Jaser and Esseghaier had been under investigation since last fall.

The Niagara Falls, Ont., Review contributed to this story

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