Alleged train derailment plot a 'very simple idea,' trial hears
Court hears recording of conversation with undercover FBI officer
A plan to derail a train travelling between Canada and the U.S. was a "very simple" idea that would kill scores of people and pave the way for more acts of terrorism, the trial of two men accused in the alleged plot heard Tuesday.
The attack was characterized that way by Chiheb Esseghaier in an audio recording of a conversation he had with an undercover FBI officer while the pair were on their way to meet his co-conspirator, Raed Jaser.
Jaser and Esseghaier both face multiple terrorism-related charges in the alleged Via Rail plot, which sought to target a train between New York and Toronto. Not-guilty pleas have been entered for both men.
An undercover FBI officer who gained the pair's trust told their trial he first came to learn of the train plot while driving from Montreal to Toronto with Esseghaier to meet Jaser.
'I am working on this idea'
The secret audio recordings from that drive were played for the trial on Tuesday.
"I am working on this idea with the brother from Palestine," Esseghaier is heard saying in the recorded conversation, referring to Jaser, who is a permanent resident of Palestinian descent.
"The train is going very fast on the railway, but it's on the bridge ... So like before the train passes by, an hour or two, what do we do, we make a hole in the bridge."
That hole would be made by two people and would be about five to six metres deep, Esseghaier is heard saying.
"So when the train is going very fast on the bridge he cannot see the hole and when he start to see the hole he start to decrease speed — it's too late for him.
"He will go through the hole....and it will be a big accident.'
'There is no missile'
Esseghaier, a Tunisian national who was doing doctoral research on nanosensors in Quebec, is heard imploring the undercover officer to keep the plan a secret, and notes that it is a "very simple idea."
"There is no missile, nothing," he is heard saying. "We know we can have two people...each one he cut his side...and there is the hole."
The bridge which would be selected for the attack had to be in an isolated area, away from houses, Esseghaier told the undercover officer, adding that he and his "brother from Palestine" had already scouted a few locations.
The attack also targeted a train between the U.S. and Toronto, he said, to ensure both Americans and Canadians would be victims.
Finally, the plan also included a video, which would warn of further attacks, Esseghaier said.
"We will say this operation is just the beginning. If you don't get out from our land we will do more and more," he is heard saying "Because Canada and America have armies."
The undercover officer also told the court that Esseghaier had another idea, to recruit a Muslim chef to poison troops on an army base, but that little progress had been made on that project.
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"All these plans were in an effort to send a message to the Western world to remove themselves from the occupation overseas of the Muslim lands," the officer explained.
The Crown has alleged Jaser and Esseghaier were motivated by Islamic extremism and spent months plotting to murder as many people as they could.
The two men were arrested in April 2013.