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Canadian Terror Plot Suspects Appear in Court

RCMP Chief Superintendent Jennifer Strachan (R), Assistant Commissioner James Malizia (C) and Chief Superintendent Gaeten Courchesne (L) speak during a news conference in Toronto, Ontario, April 22, 2013.
Two men charged in Canada with plotting a terrorist attack have appeared in separate courts.

Authorities say Raed Jaser, 35, and Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, planned to attack a Toronto-area passenger train with the support of al-Qaida elements in Iran.

Jaser appeared in Toronto's Old City Hall courthouse and denied involvement. He is to return for a bail hearing later.

Esseghaier, a Tunisian-born student, appeared in a Montreal court, was remanded in custody, and is expected to be flown back to Toronto for a court appearance there.

Further details are not available because of a publication ban.

Canadian authorities say there is no indication the planned attacks were state-sponsored by Tehran. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called the Canadian claim of Iranian links "ridiculous ... fabrications."

Police say say the two men had the "capacity and intent" to carry out an attack, but there was no immediate threat to the public or railway infrastructure.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the arrests were made with the help of U.S. authorities. The plot is not linked to last week's bombing at the Boston Marathon in the United States.

The men are not Canadian citizens, but have been living in the country for several years. News reports say Esseghaier is Tunisian and Jaser from the United Arab Emirates.

The Iranian government has kept suspected al-Qaida operatives living within its borders under house arrest, especially in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. But terrorism experts say al-Qaida agents often travel through Iran and funnel money for the group's members and affiliates operating in other countries, such as Pakistan.

Iran and Canada have had no diplomatic relations since 2012.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.