UPDATE 1-Canada thwarts 'al Qaeda-backed' train plot, Iran denies role

Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:40am EDT
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* Two men charged with plot to derail passenger train

* Plot "al Qaeda-supported", not related to Boston bombings

* U.S. officials say pair targeted Canada-U.S. train

* Canadian ties with Iran are strained; Iran denies involvement

By Euan Rocha and Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, April 23 (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested two men and charged them with plotting to derail a Toronto-area passenger train in an operation that they say was backed by al Qaeda elements in Iran.

"Had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured," Royal Canadian Mounted Police official James Malizia told reporters on Monday.

U.S. officials said the attack would have targeted a rail line between New York and Toronto, a route that travels along the Hudson Valley and enters Canada near Niagara Falls.

The RCMP said it had arrested Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto in connection with the plot. Authorities said it was not linked to last week's Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three people and injured more than 200.   Continued...