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Key information in Canadian terror plot to be released within 48 hours, says U.S. congressman

Chiheb Esseghaier, one of two men accused of plotting a terror attack on Via Rail, is led off a plane by RCMP officers at Buttonville Airport just north of Toronto on April 23, 2013.


New information about an alleged bombing plot targeting a Canada-U.S. train will likely be released to the public in the next 48 hours, according to a United States congressman briefed on the ongoing investigation.

Brian Higgins, the ranking Democrat on a congressional counter-terrorism subcommittee looking into the alleged terrorist plot involving two Canadian permanent residents, said a bi-national effort to sift through available intelligence is still under way, but that some answers may be imminent, in an interview with CTV's Question Period on Sunday morning.

"I think there's a lot of information to go through here, and I suspect over the next 48 hours you'll see good, verifiable information about just who was involved, who were they connected with, were they acting alone?" Mr. Higgins told CTV. "And I think that's good for the good that it can do relative to thwarting the next terrorist plot that may be in the planning stages."

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On Monday, the RCMP charged Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, with conspiring to commit murder and terrorism, alleging the two men received "direction and guidance" from "al-Qaeda elements in Iran" as they scoped out railway targets in Canada.

Mr. Higgins told CTV the revelation that al-Qaeda, a Sunni organization, may be active in Shia-dominated Iran "is both of concern, but also intriguing," but also sought to dampen concern that the plot might pose an ongoing threat on either side of the border.

"I think that law enforcement agents are comfortable and confident that they have a handle on this situation. If they didn't, I would have been made aware of this, perhaps in classified briefings," Mr. Higgins said. "So I'm confident that if there was additional concerns that there were elements of this group out there, or there were additional individuals involved that have not been either apprehended or are not being monitored closely, then we would have been made aware of that."

Mr. Higgins declined to say what the target of the alleged plot may have been. And he preached patience, noting that he "would prefer to have good, verifiable information later than information that's not reliable sooner."

Both Mr. Jaser and Mr. Esseghaier are in custody after court appearances earlier this week. FBI officials also questioned a third man in the U.S., according to a Globe and Mail source.

With reports from Patrick White and Daniel Leblanc

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Banking Reporter

James Bradshaw is banking reporter for the Report on Business. He covered media from 2014 to 2016, and higher education from 2010 to 2014. Prior to that, he worked as a cultural reporter for Globe Arts, and has written for both the Toronto section and the editorial page. More

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