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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.

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Muhammad Robert Heft, who runs an outreach organization for Islamic converts, and Hussein Hamdani, a lawyer and longtime advocate in the Muslim community, said one of the suspects is Tunisian and the other is from the United Arab Emirates. Both were part of a group of Muslim community leaders who were briefed by the RCMP ahead of Monday's announcement.

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Authorities were tipped off by members of the community of one of the suspects, Best said, without expanding.

A spokeswoman for the University of Sherbrooke near Montreal said 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.

Julie Martineau, a spokeswoman at the research institute, said Esseghaier began working at the center just outside Montreal in 2010 and was pursuing a PhD in nanotechnology.

"We are, of course, very surprised," she said.

A LinkedIn page showing 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 says he was a student in Tunisia before moving to Canada in the summer of 2008.

The arrests just a few months after two Canadians were discovered among militants killed in a terrorist siege at a gas plant in Algeria. The siege killed at least 38 hostages and 29 militants, including Ali Medlej and Xristos Katsiroubas, two high school friends from London, Ontario.

In 2006 Canadian police foiled the so-called Toronto 18 home grown plot to set off bombs outside Toronto's Stock Exchange, a building housing Canada's spy agency and a military base. The goal was to scare Canada into removing its troops from Afghanistan. The arrests made international headlines and heightened fears in a country where many people thought they were relatively immune from terrorist strikes.

Associated Press writers Rob Gillies in Toronto, Benjamin Shingler in Montreal, Peter James Spielmann and Maria Sanminiatelli in New York, and Pete Yost and Kimberly Dozier in Washington contributed to this story.

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