Canada – On April 23, it was reported that two men, Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser, were arrested, one in Montreal, and the other in Toronto, for plotting to place and detonate an explosive device on a train. The two were not Canadian citizens, and at the time of writing, it was unclear where they originated from. Reports indicate that they received assistance form of “…support from al-Qaeda elements located in Iran…” that included “…direction and guidance.”
Although al-Qaeda is a Sunni Muslim terrorist organization with strong teachings against the Shiite Muslim sect, the Iranian government has been known to support al-Qaeda in the past. Iran is reported to allow money to pass through its financing sector for al-Qaeda, and also allows the group to seek refuge and pass through its territory from one border to another without being detected, as well as creating a safe haven for those in a senior role within the organization. Although it is thought that this terrorist operation was in its planning stage, it may be that the planners decided to bring forward the operation in light of the Boston marathon bombing on April 15. These arrests do show that Canada and the United States are still targets of al-Qaeda and their “hosts” in Iran.
United States – On April 15, in Boston, Massachusetts, two devices exploded causing mass casualties. The two individuals who were responsible were caught, one killed and the other now in police custody. For further information, see this separate report on the 361 Security website.
On April 17, Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi received a letter which contained a lethal toxin of Ricin or another poison substance. This substance can be lethal if ingested, inhaled, or injected and only a small amount is needed to kill one person. The poison was not linked to the Boston bombing, and according to press reports, there was no specific reason given for it. The Senator may have been the target of a group that is unhappy with a policy he supports, and the Ricin was probably sent to him for that reason. The substance can be extracted from castor beans, and is far more toxic than cyanide. Later, an individual named Everett Dutschke was arrested and charged with sending the Ricin.
Venezuela – KGS Night-watch reported via the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) that Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad had left Tehran to attend the Inauguration of the newly elected Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro. The late Hugo Chavez had been friends with President Ahmadinejad for some time prior to his death.
For Tehran’s sake, it is important that the friendship between Venezuela and Iran continues, as there are a number of Shiite Iranians living in Venezuela. There are reports that certain Iranian expatriates in Venezuela have been assisting in the drug trade, which could possibly be funding future operations against the United States. Iran has strong interests in Venezuela, and President Ahmadinejad will probably be seeking to reaffirm Iran’s interests in Venezuela. It will be of great interest to see how the Iranian-Venezuelan relationship develops over the forthcoming months. Already, there appears to be unrest in Venezuela as opposition supporters were allegedly beaten for not accepting the newly elected President. National Guard troops are reported to have beat dozens of Venezuelan opposition supporters inside a barracks for refusing to accept the new President.
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst at 361 Security