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Al Qaeda in Canada? Two men arrested, charged with terrorism.

Two men were charged with plotting a terrorist attack against a Canadian passenger train with support from Al Qaeda elements in Iran, police said Monday. The men are not Canadian citizens, but they had been in Canada a "significant amount of time," said police.

By Charmaine NoronhaAssociated Press / April 22, 2013

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Laporte walks with Mohammad Shaied, sheikh of the Masjid el Noor Mosque, en route to a news conference where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced the arrest of two men accused of plotting a terror attack on a passenger train, in Toronto, April 22.

Chris Young / The Canadian Press / AP

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Toronto

 Two men were arrested and charged with plotting a terrorist attack against a Canadian passenger train with support from Al Qaeda elements in Iran, police said Monday. The case bolstered allegations by some governments and experts of a relationship of convenience between Shiite-led Iran and the predominantly Sunni Arab terrorist network.

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Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, and Raed Jaser, 35, had "direction and guidance" from Al Qaeda members in Iran, though there was no reason to think the planned attacks were state-sponsored, RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said. Police said the men did not get financial support from Al Qaeda, but declined to provide more details.

"This is the first known Al Qaeda planned attack that we've experienced in Canada," Superintendent Doug Best told a news conference. Officials in Washington and Toronto said it had no connections to last week's bombings at the marathon in Boston.

The arrests in Montreal and Toronto raised questions about Iran's murky relationship with the terrorist network. Bruce Riedel, a CIA veteran who is now a Brookings Institution senior fellow, said Al Qaeda has had a clandestine presence in Iran since at least 2001 and that neither the terror group nor Tehran speak openly about it.

"The Iranian regime kept some of these elements under house arrest," he said in an email to The Associated Press. "Some probably operate covertly. AQ members often transit Iran traveling between hideouts in Pakistan and Iraq."

U.S. intelligence officials have long tracked limited Al Qaeda activity inside Iran. Remnants of Al Qaeda's so-called management council are still there, though they are usually kept under virtual house arrest by an Iranian regime suspicious of the Sunni-/Salafi-based militant movement. There are also a small number of financiers and facilitators who help move money, and sometimes weapons and people throughout the region from their base in Iran.

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