Foiled Terror Plot

April 22, 2013 Updated Apr 22, 2013 at 11:33 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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April 22, 2013 Updated Apr 22, 2013 at 11:33 PM EDT


Niagara, Falls, NY (WKBW) - Two men have been arrested in Canada, accused of plotting a terror attack on a passenger train.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested 35-year-old Raed Jaser in Toronto and 30-year-old Chibed Esseghaier in Montreal on Monday.

Authorities had been watching them since 2012.

The two men have been charged with conspiring to carry out an attack and murder people in association with a terrorist group.

Niagara Falls, NY Mayor Paul Dyster says "Everytime there has been a terror incident we put additional security at Niagara Falls. We know this is a famous place and just like terrorists might seek attention by blowing up bombs at finish lines of the Boston Marathon, so too Niagara Falls because it's a famous place."

RCMP officials say the attack would have taken place on a Via Rail train.

The suspects were allegedly in the planning and not operational phase. RCMP officials say the public was not in any imminent danger.

Sources tell ABC New York that the suspects were looking at the Maple Leaf Line, which goes from New York City to Toronto, through Niagara Falls.

It is unclear exactly where the attack would have happened.

ABC New York has been told by sources that the suspects were looking in the Toronto area. Officials say the suspects had been looking at trains in the region.

Other police sources tell Canadian media they were also considering the Whirlpool Bridge over the Niagara River.

Niagara Falls Regional Police Chief Jeff McGuire released a statement, saying "I have been briefed on this investigation since I took over as Chief. I have not received any information that there was a plan to use explosives to blow up the bridge over the Niagara. River. The attack was focused on a train with intention to harm and kill members of the public."

On top of a tremendous human toll, "I can only imagine that a terrorist attack -- especially right here in Niagara Falls, would have a negative impact on us for quite some time," says Dyster.

Dyster adds this shows why strict security at the Cataract City's upcoming high speed train station is crucial.

Canadian authorities say the suspects have links to Al-Qaeda in Iran. Documents at Osama Bin Laden's secret compound reveal he had been urging followers to derail trains with United States citizens.

"It's more like an airport than a traditional train station. The reason for that is that security is much tighter on a high speed train for obvious reasons," Dyster says.

Although the Via rail is a passenger train in Canada, it partners up with Amtrak, specifically on the line sources say was targeted.

Amtrak released a statement, saying in part "The Amtrak Police Department will continue to work with Canadian authorities to assist in their efforts and refers all inquiries about the investigation to the RCMP. There was not an imminent threat to Amtrak passengers, employees or the general public."

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a statement about the suspected terror plot as well.

"This foiled plot shows again that we must always remain vigilant to protect New York and our country from real enemies who seek to do us harm," Schumer says. "New York shares a common border and common threat with our partners to the north and I salute the Canadian law enforcement, the FBI, and the US Department of Homeland Security for working together on a job exceedingly well done."