Relatives of the Toronto man charged in the alleged plot to attack a Via Rail train are trying to understand how the one-time school bus driver became entangled with terrorism accusations.
A man who says he is the brother-in-law of Raed Jaser told The Globe and Mail that the family is shocked by the terrorism allegations levied against the Toronto resident.
Standing outside his North York Moving and Storage business Tuesday afternoon, Joseph, who declined to give his last name, said that he and his relatives are, like all Canadians, looking for answers.
“We’re all shocked. We all have a question mark, a big question mark,” said Joseph, who attended Mr. Jaser’s bail hearing Tuesday morning.
“We want to know the story just like you guys want to know the story.”
Joseph said Mr. Jaser used to work as a dispatcher and a school bus driver. Joseph said he saw no suspicious signs or unusual behaviour.
“It’s very strange,” Joseph said. “If he’s trustful with little kids for so many years, I don’t know how to comment on whatever is happening.”
Joseph said his sister married Mr. Jaser about five or six years ago.
The pair, who met in Canada through work, lived in a rental apartment in a quiet east-end neighbourhood, which was flooded with police Monday evening. They didn’t have any children, but hoped to one day, Joseph said.
He said Mr. Jaser was unemployed, helping his brother-in-law at the moving and storage company, where he was arrested Monday afternoon.
However, an auto-reply message from the moving company’s sales department comes from an R. Jaser, whose e-mail signature lists him as a “customer service rep.” And reviews of the company on HomeStars began mentioning a Mr. Jaser or a Jasser starting last month.
The 35-year-old Mr. Jaser appeared before an Ontario Court justice of the peace at the Old City Hall courthouse Tuesday morning.
Mr. Jaser’s parents were in attendance during the brief court appearance. “I’m here to support my son … Let the police do their job,” his father, Mohammed Jaser, told reporters.
According to their charge sheet, Mr. Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, are being charged with conspiracy to commit murder, participating in the activities of a terrorist group and conspiracy to interfere with transportation facilities.
Those alleged offences took place between April and September of last year.
Mr. Esseghaier also was charged with one count of having directed a person to carry out a terrorist activity and terrorist activities from September to Feb. 14 of this year, according to the court document.
Mr. Jaser’s lawyer questioned why they were arrested when police said there was no imminent danger.
John Norris noted that his client was taken into custody Monday in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and amid a parliamentary debate on a new federal anti-terrorism law.
“The timing of the arrest is a bit of a mystery and certainly I would like to hear the RCMP’s explanation for that. They have been very clear that there is no risk of public safety.”
Scores of police officers with rifles and search dogs surrounded Joseph’s moving firm on Monday. Employees of the industrial strip mall said they were told to stay put for about two hours until police took a man with a beard into custody, said co-worker John Comes.
“He was inside the building. [Police] pulled him out and then they walked him to a black SUV.”
Mr. Jaser was a director of Nexus Executive Limousine Services Inc., which was incorporated in 2008 and dissolved for non-compliance in 2011 after failing to file annual documents for three years, according to information from Industry Canada.
The business’s registered office address was a house on Lehman Crescent in Markham, Ont. Property records show that Mohammed and Sabah Jaser bought the house in 2000. After mortgage payments were defaulted on, the lender sold it to another family in 2009.
With a report from Jill Mahoney