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CMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia answers questions at a press conference April 22, 2013 in Toronto. The RCMP arrested two individuals and charged them with conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack against a VIA passenger train.

Moe Doiron

A look at what we know so far about the alleged terror plot announced by RCMP today in Toronto

Who has been arrested?

The two men in custody are Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto. The RCMP say the men are not Canadian citizens, and police have not released information about their birthplaces or how long they have been living in Canada.

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What do we know about the pair?

A spokeswoman for the University of Sherbrooke told The Canadian Press that Esseghaier studied there in 2008-2009. More recently, he has been doing doctoral research at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique, a spokeswoman at the training university confirmed.

A LinkedIn page says a man with Esseghaier's name and academic background helped author a number of biology research papers, including on HIV and cancer detection. The page carries a photo of a black flag inscribed with the Islamic declaration of faith, CP reports.

What are the charges?

The charges include conspiring to carry out an attack against, and conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group.

What was the target?

The suspected target was a Via passenger train in the Toronto area, the RCMP said today. Reuters News Agency reported that U.S. officials said it was the Toronto-New York City train.

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How long has the RCMP been investigating the case?

The two suspects had been under investigation since last August, a person briefed by police told Agence France-Presse. The police were tipped a year and a half ago by members of the Muslim community in Toronto, the source said.

Was anyone else involved in the plot?

Assistant RCMP Commissioner James Malizia said the suspects were receiving "guidance and direction" from "al-Qaeda elements located in Iran" but said that there's no evidence that the attacks were sponsored by the Iranian government.

"This is the first known al-Qaeda plan or attack that we've experienced [in Canada]," Superintendent Doug Best told reporters.

How active is al-Qaeda in Iran?

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Little is known about al-Qaeda in Iran, but AFP reports that U.S. officials have in past alleged that two financiers of the group are based there.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of State said it was offering rewards of $7-million for Muhsin al-Fadhli, "a senior facilitator and financier" and $5-million for his alleged deputy, Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi.

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