Edmonton man accused in terror plot

A Canadian man has been arrested in Edmonton for his alleged association with a network responsible for suicide bombings in Iraq, including one that killed five U.S. soldiers in 2009.
U.S. and Iraqi soldiers patrol Mosul in March 2009. A Canadian man was arrested in Edmonton on Wednesday for his alleged association with a network responsible for suicide bombings in the Iraqi city. ((Maya Alleruzzo/Associated Press))
A Canadian man was arrested in Edmonton on Wednesday for his alleged association with a network of Tunisians believed to be responsible for suicide bombings in Iraq, including one that killed five U.S. soldiers in April 2009.

The U.S. Department of Justice said it is seeking to have Sayfildin Tahir Sharif, 38, also known as Faruq Khalil Muhammad 'Isa or Tahir Sharif Sayfildin, extradited to the United States to face charges in New York state.

U.S. authorities allege the accused is charged "in connection with his support for a multinational terrorist network that conducted multiple suicide bombings in Iraq and that is responsible for the deaths of five American soldiers."

They also allege Sharif had aspirations to travel to Iraq and carry out a bombing himself.

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Patrick Webb confirmed officers arrested Sharif at 9 a.m. in downtown Edmonton on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

"The FBI gave us quite a lot of information to identify the suspect and we used that information to identify the suspect, and finally made the arrest when we were sure he was the right guy," Webb said.

Sharif is in custody in Edmonton pending the outcome of the extradition request. He is due to appear in an Edmonton court on Thursday.

The soldiers were killed on April 10, 2009, when a Tunisian man drove a truck filled with explosives to the gate of Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq.

The man exchanged gunfire with Iraqi police officers and a convoy of American soldiers that was leaving the base. The man's truck blew up about 50 metres from the gate, right next to the last vehicle in the convoy.

Conversations wiretapped

In the complaint — filed in United States District Court of eastern New York — U.S. authorities allege the group was also responsible the suicide bombing of a police station that killed seven Iraqis on March 31, 2009.

The FBI says Canadian authorities long had Sharif under investigation and obtained Canadian court-authorized wiretaps and search warrants for his phone, computer, internet and email accounts.

Wiretaps from March 2009 had Sharif allegedly advising one prospective suicide bomber to delete information from his computer and not leave any belongings at his home.

"Don't leave any trace," Sharif reportedly said.

In May 2010, Sharif allegedly gave instructions to his sister, who lives in Iraq.

"Go learn about weapons and go attack the police and Americans," he reportedly said. "Let it be that you die."

In a conversation with his mother from  Nov. 2009, Sharif allegedly talks about how it is everyone's responsibility to fight the "infidel enemy" in a Muslim country and reportedly states his greatest wish was to die a martyr.

"Do you know mother when a martyr dies, he would have seven characteristics. First, he receives forgiveness for all his sins, then he gets to see his own seat in Paradise … also he gets to have 70 virgins."

His communications with members of the cell also made reference to "farming," which is believed to be code for terrorist attacks, the complaint states.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews issued a statement about the arrest.

"The Government of Canada remains unwavering in its commitment to protect Canadians and support the global fight against terrorism," he said.

"That is why Canada works very closely with international partners, including the United States, to combat terrorism and its perpetrators. We face the same threats and share the same concerns."