By William Tucker
Canadian authorities announced the arrest of two men charged with trying to execute a terrorist attack that aimed to derail a train. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) stated the men were under surveillance for a year and were backed by al-Qaeda elements in Iran. The extent of the actual relationship to al-Qaeda is unknown at this time, but we will likely learn more about this connection as time goes on. The RCMP did point out that there was no sign of state sponsorship, but they didn’t say whether they had any information to indicate that Iran was aware of the plot. This is unsurprising as accusing a nation-state of terrorism without concrete evidence is quite risky. That being said, its difficult to believe that Iranian intelligence was unaware of the plot. Iran has long been home to several major Al Qaeda operatives all with the tacit approval of the regime in Tehran.
There still a lot of details learn about this attack but authorities have stated that it didn’t have any relation to the terrorist attacks in Boston. One of the things that al-Qaeda researchers will be trying to learn is whether or not al-Qaeda prime, such as the groups leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, was involved in the planning process, or at least knew of the plot. Many analysts were surprised after the killing of Osama bin Laden just how much that terrorist leader was involved in the planning process of many terrorist plots during his self-imposed house arrest in Pakistan. Hopefully will learn more about this in the coming days and weeks. This may give us insight into the current state of al-Qaeda’s leadership and its ability to survive or reconstitute following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.