Members of Canada's Muslim community helped tip off authorities to a terrorist plan to attack a train, allegedly devised by two men working with al Qaeda.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced Monday that Raed Jaser and suspected accomplice Chiheb Esseghaier were arrested in connection with a terror plot to derail a Via Rail Canada train within the country, according to the New York Times. Police did not identify which train the suspects planned to attack nor how they planned to derail it.
Muhammad Robert Heft, a Muslim community leader in Ontario, told the Toronto Sun that the imam of a local Muslim community helped foil the terror plot by alerting authorities.
"At the end of the day, it's not how you dress, it's how you think," he said. "In our community we may look a little different, but in our hearts we love Canada. It's our country. It's our tribe. We want safety for all Canadians regardless of their religion."
Heft made sure to push back against misconceptions that Canadian Muslims do not share information with authorities. "We have to be on the front lines," he told the Sun. "To either nip it in the bud in the very beginning or cooperate with authorities so they can be brought to justice."
Heft told CNN that Canadian police revealed the imam's help in thwarting the incident during a Monday briefing with members of the Islamic community.
"We are supportive and thankful that the RCMP did the investigation and was able to apprehend the individuals before anything happened," he said. "We are pleased that they took us in and explained what was going on."
The terror suspects have reportedly been under government surveillance for over a year. Imam Yusuf Badat, of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto, also told Canada's CBC that the tips from the Muslim community led to the arrests on Monday.
U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson added that the two men were apprehended following "extensive" cross-boarder operations.
"It underscores the fact that we face serious and real threats, and that security is a shared responsibility," Jacobson said in a statement. "We all need to remain vigilant in confronting threats and keeping North America safe and secure."
Jaser and Esseghaier are accused of receiving "directions and guidance" from members of al Qaeda in Shiite-led Iran, even though al Qaeda is a Sunni Arab network, the Associated Press notes. Charges against the men include conspiracy to carry out an attack and murder people in association with a terrorist group.