TORONTO — Canadian police charged a minor with a terrorism-related offense on Friday after receiving a tip from the FBI about an attack plot and finding elements of an explosive device.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superintendent Peter Lambertucci said the suspect was reported to be involved in the manufacturing of homemade improvised explosives and officers found elements and traces of that. He declined to give specifics.
Lambertucci said an adult male was also arrested in Kingston, Ontario, but has not been charged. The youth cannot be named.
Amin Alzahabi, the father of Hussam Eddin Alzahabi, 20, said Friday his son had been arrested but not charged. He said he was unsure what was happening.
“I want to know where he is,” Amin Alzahabi said at his Kingston home.
The Alzahabi family came to Canada about two years ago after leaving Syria for Kuwait. Their home in Syria was destroyed and their father was once imprisoned for not joining the ruling political party, according to an annual report from one of the churches that sponsored the refugee family, which said he would be vulnerable to arrest and severe retaliation should he and the family return home,
Lambertucci said the youth and the adult were friends. Both are residents of Kingston. Police declined to give the age of the youth.
Police said the minor has been charged with “knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity and “counselling a person to deliver, place, discharge or detonate an explosive” in a public place with intent to injure and cause death.
The FBI informed the RCMP of a plot in December.
“We did receive credible FBI information regarding an attack plot with no specific time, date or location affixed to it,” Lambertucci said.
He declined to say what the possible motive was and said he didn’t know where the plot might have been conducted.
Bronek Korczynski said he and other members of the four churches that sponsored and brought the Alzahabi family to Canada were shocked by the son’s arrest.
“Even though our sponsorship ended last July, many of us in the group have maintained relationships with the family — meaningful relationships — and this is just a real bodyblow,” he said. “We’re just gobsmacked by this. It’s so out of whack with the family we’ve come to know and care for.”
A police plane has been flying over downtown Kingston since early January and Lambertucci confirmed it was being used for surveillance in the investigation, but denied suggestions police had moved to arrest the suspect because people became aware of the aerial surveillance.
Resident Neil Aird said it would fly over for four or five hours at night and was a nuisance for residents, describing it as “like a mosquito in your bedroom.”
“I was getting fed up,” he said. “I sincerely hope it’s worth the effort and the expenses and the risk to the pilots and the discomfort to 120,000 people.”
RCMP Chief Superintendent Michael LeSage thanked several agencies including the FBI, Kingston police, Ontario Provincial Police, Canada Border Services Agency and CSIS, Canada’s spy agency.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted Canada is one of the safest countries in the world and said that’s in part to the work of police and intelligences services.
“Anyone who chooses to divide Canadians against each other, to use fear or violence to threaten our society, will fail because Canadians are strong and resilient,” Trudeau said.