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More details awaited in Canada train terror probe

Additional details expected to provide more substantiated information on a suspected terrorist plot to derail a train coming from Toronto to New York City might be released as soon as today, according to Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo.

Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto, and Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, were recently arrested in Canada and charged with conspiring with members of the al-Qaida terrorist network in Iran to carry out an attack that would have included derailing the train and killing passengers.

“With any investigation, there is a lot of information and a number of leads to pursue,” Higgins said. “Canadian and U.S. investigators have been collecting that information, and they are now connecting the dots. We’re expecting more information to be released.”

Questions to be answered, Higgins said, will focus on whether Jaser and Esseghaier were actually working with al-Qaida in Iran and whether more individuals were involved in the alleged plan, which authorities said was supposed to occur on Canadian soil.

“I’d rather have a very thorough investigation with reliable information,” Higgins said of the time it has taken to release a more comprehensive picture of what the two suspects were allegedly planning.

Of the alleged link to Iran, the congressman pointed out that when the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan was driven from power in 2001, many of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida members and family members fled to Iran.

“They self-exiled to Iran because it was convenient. It was nearby,” Higgins said.

The House subcommittee on homeland security, counterterrorism and intelligence plans to hold hearings to further explore al-Qaida activities in Iran, according to Higgins, who is the ranking Democrat on the panel.

Iranian officials have criticized Canadian authorities for making accusations of an al-Qaida presence in their country.