Iran is furious that the peace-loving nation has been implicated in a terrorist plot on Canadian soil, denying any involvement and accusing Canada’s “radical” government of harassing the Islamic republic – even though Canadian officials have not leveled any accusations against them.
Reuters reports that Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast was furious the country had been connected to a terrorist plot to derail a passenger train and inflict mass casualties on Canadian soil.
"No shred of evidence regarding those who've been arrested and stand accused has been provided," Mehmanparast told a local news agency.
"In recent years, Canada's radical government has put in practice a project to harass Iran and it is clear that it has pursued these hostile actions."
Canadian intelligence officials announced on Monday that the plot to derail a passenger train outside of Toronto had been linked to al-Qaeda elements in Iran. Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, and Raed Jaser, 35, of Toronto, were said to be receiving support from the members of the terrorist organization in that country.
Assistant RCMP Commissioner James Malizia said, however, Canada did not suspect the plot to be state-sponsored nor did he allege al-Qaeda was receiving support in any way from the Iranian government.
Canada has taken a hard stance with Iran recently, severing diplomatic ties with the country to express opposition to a nuclear development program.
"The international community is deeply and increasingly concerned with the stubbornness of the Iranian regime," a March announcement reads. Our government has also taken Iran to task over its human rights failings and its hostility toward Israel.
Still, the idea of al-Qaeda operating from inside Iran has some security experts wary. Iran is a Shi'ite Muslim theocracy and unlikely to work in connection with the the Sunni-based al-Qaeda.
A CBC News report outlines the relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda operatives, suggesting the members of the terrorist group first entered Iran while fleeing the 2001 war in Afghanistan.
Seth Jones, a security expert on al-Qaeda, told the network that Iran first help facilitate the arrival of al-Qaeda leaders but, by 2002, was detaining them under a house arrest. Iran would not, however, allow those members to be deported to the U.S. and, according to the report, they have mostly been freed at this point.
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Jones said in an interview that al-Qaeda operatives in Iran tend to focus on the transit of weapons, not actual operations. He added:
[T]hey have gotten very clear messages from the Iranian regime not to conduct operational planning from Iranian territory because it would put pressure on the Iranian government.
The stakes are high in the Middle East and Iran is already facing enough international pressure, what with its nuclear program and open hatred toward different religions and cultures and all. Which is why it is likely desperate to clear the air on its role in the Canadian plot.
Iran may not have been involved in the plot to attack Canada, but a terrorist group operating under its nose was. It should be sure its house is clear before getting into another shouting match with North America.
Our “radical” government isn’t likely to react kindly.