Three people have been arrested in Canada as part of an alleged hometown plot.
Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 30, and Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, residents of Canadian capital Ottawa were arrested on Wednesday and made a brief court appearance on Thursday. Police have said that they expect more arrests.
The Toronto Star reported on a third arrest in the case, this time of a man who appeared on “Canadian Idol”, Canada’s version of the popular television program “American Idol”, in 2008.
Khuram Sher, 28, was arrested in London, Ontario, in connection to the terror plot. Sher is a 2005 graduate of the McGill medical school in Montreal. In 2006, he visited Pakistan during relief efforts after an earthquake in Kashmir. He auditioned unsuccessfully for “Canadian Idol” in 2008, where he told judges he was originally from Pakistan and came to Canada in 2005.
The suspects are charged in connection with a plot to make and detonate improvised explosive devices as well as financing terror groups operating in Afghanistan.
Canadian police said on Thursday that the terrorist cell was based in Ottawa and had international connections. The cell was only reportedly months away from exploding bombs on Canadian soil, said a senior police official.
Police allege that the three men have been conspiring since February 2008 with three others in a terrorist plot traced back to Iran, Pakistan and Dubai.
Chief Superintendent Serge Therriault, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police chief of criminal operations said police seized more than 50 electronic circuit boards that could be used to produce improvised explosive devices, similar to lethal bombs that have been involved in the majority of deaths and injuries of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.
“This group posed a real and serious threat to the citizens of the national capital region and Canada’s national security,” Therriault said.
Alizadeh faces charges of making or possessing explosive devices for terrorist purposes and terrorist financing. According to police, he is an active member of an unnamed terrorist group.
“Part of the decision to make the arrests at this time was to prevent the suspect from providing financial support to terrorist counterparts for the purchase of weapons which would in turn be used against coalition forces and our troops (in Afghanistan),” said Therriault.
Alizadeh and Misbahuddin were remanded in custody until they make a video court appearance next Wednesday.
Sher’s relatives reacted in shock to his arrest. "He was always joking around. He was a contestant on Canadian Idol. He's such a great guy," said Mariam Wasty, Sher’s cousin, to Postmedia News. "I don't know why he'd be connected to this."
Khurram Sher's uncle, Rafat Syed said: "Oh my god, impossible. He's not that type of person. You must be joking.”Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Thursday that terror networks have a global reach: “They exist not only in remote countries but through globalization and the Internet, they have links in our country and all through the world,” he said.