Via Rail terror suspects wanted ‘whole country to burn,’ trial told

TORONTO – The Crown continues presenting its case today at the trial of two men accused of planning to derail a passenger train travelling between Canada and the U.S.

The trial of Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier heard Wednesday that they wanted “the whole country to burn” in retaliation for foreign military action in their Muslim homelands.

The jury was told Jaser and Esseghaier believed they were on a mission and “everyone was a target.”

The pair — who were arrested in April 2013 — have pleaded not-guilty to multiple terror-related charges in the alleged Via Rail plot.

The trial has heard that the alleged train plot would see two men drill a hole in a railway bridge under cover of darkness to derail the train.

Court also heard Jaser revealed a long-term “sniper plot” to target leaders in Canadian society, such as MPs, or the mayor of Toronto.

Esseghaier, a Tunisian national doing doctoral research on nanosensors in Quebec, was befriended by an undercover officer in the summer of 2012. In September of that year, Esseghaier travelled to Toronto with the officer to introduce him to Jaser, a permanent resident of Palestinian descent.

Esseghaier first revealed the alleged train plot to the undercover officer during that journey, but begged him to keep it a secret, the trial heard.

It was only after spending some time with the officer in Toronto that Jaser allowed the plan to be fully revealed, as he, Esseghaier and the officer took a late-night walk through a quiet residential neighbourhood.

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