NRI in Canada terror net?
But, there was no confirmation if the 25-year-old Toronto resident is of Indian stock, writes S Rajagopalan.india Updated: Jun 05, 2006 10:14 IST
One of the 17 suspects rounded up by Canadian authorities while uncovering the country's first major terrorist bomb plot goes by the name Steven Vikash Chand alias Abdul Shakur.
But there was no immediate confirmation if the 25-year-old Toronto resident and a convert to Islam is of Indian stock. A report in the Canadian media said the young man's brother, Alwin Chand, scoffed at the charges.
A huge cache of explosives was reported seized from the group, which allegedly drew inspiration from Al Qaeda and was plotting to bomb the Parliament building in Ottawa and the Toronto offices of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, near the city's famed CN Tower.
Outside a Toronto court, where the suspects were produced on Saturday, Alwin Chand said of his brother: "He's not a terrorist, come on, he's a Canadian citizen. The people that were arrested are good people. They go to the mosque. They go to school, go to college."
Steven Chand used to visit the city's Salaheddin Islamic Centre two or three times a week. Mohamed Ally, a member of the mosque, described Chand as "a very humble, peaceful brother who visits schools to help troubled youths to find Islam". He had recently taken up a job in a shop.
The group of 17, according to Royal Canadian Mounted Police's assistant commissioner Mike McDonell, possessed three tons of ammonium nitrate — three times the quantity used in the 1995 bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City, US, that killed 168 persons.
The suspects, five of them minors, were arrested in raids on Friday night in the suburbs of Toronto. They are mostly Canadian citizens, bearing Muslim names. While the antecedents of Chand and some others were still being gone into, some others were said to have emigrated from Somalia, Egypt, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The group had connections with a Pakistani American and a Bangladeshi American arrested in recent months on charges of giving material support to terrorism.