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Via plot suspect Raed Jaser drove high school minivan for special ed students

Raed Jaser, 35, is brought into Toronto’s Old City Hall court building in the back of an RCMP cruiser on April 23, 2013. He faces three charges: Three charges: conspiracy to interfere with transport facilities; participating in a terrorist organization, and conspiracy to commit murder

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

When Raed Jaser came to Aplus School Services looking for a job as a school bus driver last year, he appeared competent and qualified, his former employer said.

For about 10 months last year, Raed Jaser, 35, who is accused of plotting an al-Qaeda-linked attack to derail a Via Rail train, drove a minivan for students in the special education program at Unionville High School, the president of Aplus School Services Dib Ajram said.

Mr. Ajram said that Mr. Jaser worked part-time for his company, driving students for about an hour each morning, and then about an hour in the afternoon. But, after nearly a year, Mr. Ajram said, he quit.

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"We had no problems with him whatsoever when he was here," Mr. Ajram said in an interview. "Otherwise, he wouldn't stay."

Mr. Jaser appeared in court Tuesday morning, after he was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, participating in the activities of a terrorist group and conspiracy to interfere with transportation facilities. Officials allege Mr. Jaser, along with Chiheb Esseghaier of Montreal, were targeting a Via passenger train on a rail line between New York and Toronto.

"He was okay. We checked his background, criminal record, vulnerable sector check, and they all came clean," Mr. Ajram said.

A vulnerable sector check is performed by local police in cases where employees are expected to work directly with children, the elderly, or persons with disabilities.

On top of that, Mr. Ajram said, Mr. Jaser claimed to have over 10 years of experience as a private driver.

From 2008 to 2011, Mr. Jaser was the director of Nexus Executive Limousine Services, a private transportation company.

His brother-in-law Joseph told the Globe Tuesday that recently, Mr. Jaser had been helping out at a moving and storage company.

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Unionville High School in Markham, Ont.  in Ontario runs from Grades 9 through 12. A spokesperson for the York Region District School Board said that, like many school boards in the province, school bus services are operated through a consortium and contracted out to local transportation companies.

"Ultimately, at the end of the day, we have processes in place to ensure that students are safe," Licinio Miguelo said. "And in this case, there's no reason to believe otherwise."

With reports from Globe staff

If you have information on Raed Jaser or Chiheb Esseghaier, contact The Globe at

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