Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Father 'concerned' for plot suspect

Canadian police say they have foiled a major plot against a passenger train
Canadian police say they have foiled a major plot against a passenger train

One of two men accused of plotting with al Qaida members in Iran to derail a train in Canada became radicalised to the point that his father reached out to a Muslim support group for help and advice, a local religious leader has said.

Muhammad Robert Heft, president of the Paradise Forever Support Group, a non-profit organisation which provides support to Muslims in Canada, said Mohammad Jaser came to him several times citing concerns about the radicalisation of his son.

"He came to me about his son, saying how concerned he was getting about the rigidness of his son and his interpretation of Islam. He was becoming self-righteous, becoming pushy, pushing his views on how much they (his family) should be practising as a Muslim," said Mr Heft.

Mr Jaser's son, Raed, 35, has been charged along with Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, with conspiring to carry out an attack and murder people in association with a terrorist group in their plot to derail a train that runs between New York City and Montreal.

Canadian investigators say the men received guidance from members of al Qaida in Iran. Iranian government officials have said the government had nothing to do with the plot.

"His son was becoming over-zealous and intolerant in his understanding of the religion," said Mr Heft. "Those are the tell-tale signs that can lead into the radicalisation process."

The discussions took place between 2010 and 2011, while the father was renting a basement apartment in Mr Heft's home in Markham, Ontario.

On Wednesday, the other suspect appeared briefly in court where he made a statement suggesting he did not recognise the court's jurisdiction.

"This criminal code is not a holy book," Esseghaier said at the hearing. "We cannot rely on the conclusions taken out from these judgments." At the hearing, Esseghaier rejected the allegations against him and declined to be represented by a court-appointed lawyer.

Jaser appeared in court on Tuesday and did not enter a plea. The court granted a request by his lawyer, John Norris, for a publication ban on future evidence and testimony. Both men were ordered to return to court on May 23.

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