(WBEN/AP) That investigation into two suspected Al Qaeda members who wanted to blow up a Toronto train continues and local law enforcement is trying to run down a lead involving others in Western New York that may have been involved.
Last week , The Royal Canadian Mounted police arrested 30-year-old Chiheb Esseghaier along with 35 year old Raed Jaser.
The two are charged with conspiring to carry out an attack and murder people in association with a terrorist group. Authorities say the men plotted- with guidance from members of Al Qaiuda in Iran- to derail a train that runs between New York City and Montreal with stops in Buffalo Depew and Niagara Falls.
The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority' s Police Cheif George Gast says they had a lead on suspects in the case.. and are involved in the investigation, chasing down a possible local connection.
"There was some information passed to our terrorism team that related to the investigation up in Canada. We reported that to the FBI and we are continuing to work with the FBI and through the FBI with Canadian Authorites to validate that information. And I can't say anymore than that," Gast says.
U.S . Senator Charles Schumer - appearing in Buffalo Tuesday - hinted at the local role. saying he has been briefed, but can't really talk about what investigators have shared.
"Their basic plan was to blow up tracks and let the train crash off th tracks,. ANd so there's speculation, not proven- that the Whirlpool Bridge would have been the most dangerous place for them to do that. "
Schumer says at this point The Whirlpool Bridge as a possible target is a strong theory. He says law enforcement has briefed him on the case, but he is not at liberty to discuss the possibility of more suspects still at large.
Canada's immigration minister says he is reviewing the country's deportation policies in light of the arrests-- after a court decided nine years ago against deporting Essghaier.
Esseghaier came to Quebec in August 2008 and is registered at the Consulate of Tunisia in Montreal.
Esseghaier, along with Raed Jaser, has been charged with conspiring to carry out an attack and kill people in association with a terrorist group. Authorities say the men plotted to derail a train that runs between New York City and Montreal. Investigators say the pair received guidance from members of al-Qaida in Iran.
In a Toronto courtroom last week, Esseghaier gave a rambling statement and appears to say he is not recognizing the court's jurisdiction.
"My comment is the following because all of those conclusions were taken out based on criminal code and all of us know that this criminal code is not a holy book," Chiheb Esseghaier said Wednesday. "We cannot rely on the conclusions taken out from these judgments."
The judge told him to "save that for another court," and take the advice of his lawyers. He was given a May 23 court date.