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Two men, Hiva Alizadeh (left) and Misbahuddin Ahmed, were charged in an Ottawa court on Thursday with terrorism offences. Courtroom sketch by Dave Clendinin. (Dave Clendinin)
Two men, Hiva Alizadeh (left) and Misbahuddin Ahmed, were charged in an Ottawa court on Thursday with terrorism offences. Courtroom sketch by Dave Clendinin. (Dave Clendinin)

Terror plot would have brought Afghan war home to Canada Add to ...

The Canadian citizens accused of belonging to an Ottawa terrorist cell allegedly planned to fund the purchase of weapons for Canada's enemies in Afghanistan and had been trained to launch Afghan-style IED attacks in the Canadian capital. Had such a plot succeeded, it would have brought Canada's Afghan war home with murderous effect.

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Investigators yesterday revealed an alleged conspiracy that stretches from Ottawa across the globe to Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Dubai. Police named six men as belonging to the terror cell. Two were arrested in Ottawa on Wednesday and a third man, a doctor, was arrested in London, Ont., on Thursday. All three are Canadians. Three unindicted co-conspirators, whose citizenship is unclear, have not been charged by Canadian police and may be outside the country.

The group is accused of amassing schematics, components and instructions to build homemade bombs. They had built more than 50 electronic circuit boards that were to be used as remote-controlled triggers and were planning an attack that was just months away, according to police.

One member is alleged to have been trained in bomb-making, possibly a person who is believed to have travelled to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. One is also accused of gathering funds for foreign terror groups that would have been used to buy arms to target Canadian and allied troops in Afghanistan.



Colin Freeze

Neither the RCMP nor CSIS would discuss what motivated the alleged plot or what its targets were, except to say that the group was a threat to the capital region and Canada's national security.

Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, a 30-year-old who took electrical engineering classes in Winnipeg in 2008, is facing more charges than the others. In addition to being charged with facilitating a terrorist activity and possessing an explosive substance, he is accused of collecting property that will be used to benefit a terrorist group. The RCMP suggested the arrests were timed to prevent the accused from delivering the funds he is alleged to have collected.

Mr. Alizadeh is a somewhat mysterious figure. Even his lawyer on Thursday knew little of the man. Tall, with a long beard and unkempt hair under a wool prayer cap, he appeared in an Ottawa court on Thursday. Security officials said his activities had been monitored for more than a year.

His co-accused are described as family men, upstanding students, employees and citizens who loved hockey and were well-known figures in a Montreal ball-hockey league.

Khurram Sher, 28, is a physician who completed medical school and a pathology residency at McGill University in Montreal. He once appeared on the Canadian Idol television show, where he pretended to be a recent immigrant from Pakistan and was mocked by the judges for his performance. He organized charitable activities and was well-liked and respected in his community. He had recently been hired at a hospital in St. Thomas, Ont., and was arrested at his home in London, Ont., on Thursday.

Dr. Sher's former ball-hockey teammate, Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, was arrested in Ottawa on Wednesday. He worked at the Ottawa Civic hospital as an X-ray technician and received excellent reviews from his colleagues.

Police would not say where the three unindicted co-conspirators are believed to be, although they may be travelling in any of the four countries named by the RCMP as being connected to this raid. One, Rizgar Alizadeh, has the same last name as one of the accused. Also named are James Lara and Zakaria Mamosta and person or persons unknown.

A decade after the 9/11 attacks changed America and the world, the latest arrests will be held up as evidence that the threat of extremism is undiminished. Six years ago, officers stormed a suburban Ottawa house to arrest 24-year-old Momin Khawaja, unearthing a small arsenal of weapons and circuitry before successfully prosecuting him as a terrorist. Four years ago, police in Toronto raided homes of 18 young suspects, including a 20-year-old ringleader who videotaped himself testing a prototype bomb detonator.





RCMP investigators remove evidence from a home in London, Ontario August 26, 2010 where they arrested a man in a Terrorism related investigation. GEOFF ROBINS The Globe and Mail







Officials point out the latest accused are educated professionals clustered around 30 years old - and not, as in past busts, fanciful teenagers with violent fantasies.

Speaking in the Northwest Territories on Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it was not his place to comment on the case.

"Unfortunately, this incident does serve to remind us that Canada does face some very real threats in the troubled world in which we live," he added.

Dr. Sher's former ball-hockey teammate, Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, was arrested in Ottawa on Wednesday. He worked at the Ottawa Civic hospital as an X-ray technician and received excellent reviews from his colleagues.

Police would not say where the three unindicted co-conspirators are believed to be, although they may be travelling in any of the four countries named by the RCMP as being connected to this raid. One, Rizgar Alizadeh, has the same last name as one of the accused. Also named are James Lara and Zakaria Mamosta and person or persons unknown.

A decade after the 9/11 attacks changed America and the world, the latest arrests will be held up as evidence that the threat of extremism is undiminished. Six years ago, riot-squad officers stormed a suburban Ottawa house to arrest 24-year-old Momin Khawaja, unearthing a small arsenal of weapons and circuitry before successfully prosecuting him as a terrorist. Four years ago, police in Toronto raided homes of 18 young suspects, including a 20-year-old ringleader who videotaped himself testing a prototype bomb detonator.

Officials point out the latest accused are educated professionals clustered around 30 years old - and not, as in past busts, fanciful teenagers with violent fantasies.

Speaking in the Northwest Territories on Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it was not his place to comment on the case."Unfortunately, this incident does serve to remind us that Canada does face some very real threats in the troubled world in which we live," he added.





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