Toronto: An al Qaeda-linked plot in Canada, in which the suspects were preparing to carry out the first terror attack in the country, has been traced back to Pakistan, Iran and Dubai even as police arrested another plotter Thursday.
The suspects were just "months" away from carrying out the first terrorist attack on Canadian soil, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said.
While two suspects, 30-year-old Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh and 26-year-old Misbahuddin Ahmed - reported by his landlord to be of Indian origin - were arrested Wednesday in Ottawa, 28-year-old Khuram Khan was nabbed Thursday morning form the city of London, south-west of Toronto.
Khan, who comes from Pakistan, had taken part in the 2007 Canadian Idol contest wearing the Pakistani national dress of salwar-kameez.
The three suspects have been charged with hatching a terror plot in collaboration with their Canadian co-conspirators - Zakaria Mamosta, Rizgar Alizadeh and James Lara - and people in Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Dubai. They have also been charged with financing terror groups in Afghanistan.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have seized more than 50 electronic circuit boards that can be used in making improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
The plot has been in the works since February 2008, and was unearthed after a year-long surveillance of the suspects, police said.
"This group posed a real and serious threat to the citizens of the national capital region (Ottawa) and Canada`s national security. Our criminal investigation and arrests prevented the assembly of any bombs and the terrorist attack," said RCMP Superintendent Serge Therriault.
Reacting to the smashing of the jihadist plot, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said "Canada does face some very real threats in the troubled in which we live."
He said terror networks targeting Western nations have a global reach.
"They exist not only in remote countries but through globalisation and the Internet, they have links in our country and all through the world," the prime minister said.
It is the second al Qaeda-linked terror plot to be smashed in Canada after the Toronto-18 plot, which was unearthed in June 2006 with the arrest of 18 Toronto-area Muslim youths for conspiring to blow up major targets and storm Parliament to take leaders hostage and behead the Prime Minister.
Eleven of these 18 plotters were convicted.
Canada has more than one million Muslims in its population of 34 million, and their population is projected to triple in the next two decades.