The FBI announced Thursday that Ahmed Abassi, a Tunisian citizen who recently moved to the United States from Canada, has been arrested in connection with a planned terrorist attack at a railway along America’s northern border.
Abassi is the third man to be charged in relation to the terror plot. The other two were arrested in Canada last month, and are said to be affiliated with al-Qaida elements in Iran. According to the New York Daily News, their plan involved derailing a Toronto-bound train operated by Amtrak.
“As alleged, Mr. Abassi came to the United States to pursue terrorist activity and support others in the same shameful pursuit,” FBI Assistant Director in Charge George Venizelos said in a statement. “What Mr. Abassi didn’t know was that one of his associates, privy to the details of his plan, was an undercover FBI agent.”
According to the FBI, Abassi came to the U.S. in March and “fraudulently” attempted to obtain a work visa.
“While in the United States, Abassi, who was under surveillance by law enforcement agents at all times, maintained regular contact with an FBI undercover officer (the UC) and also met with Chiheb Esseghaier in New York City,” the FBI said in a statement. “Esseghaier, who was recently arrested in Canada and is currently incarcerated there on terrorism charges, was previously radicalized by Abassi.”
“During Abassi’s discussions with Esseghaier and with the UC, which were recorded by the UC, Abassi discussed his desire to engage in terrorist acts against targets in the United States and other countries and his intention to provide support and funding to organizations engaged in terrorist activity—including the al Nusrah Front, which is recognized by the U.S. Department of State as an alias for Al Qaeda in Iraq—and to recruit other individuals for terrorist plots.”
Abassi was arrested on April 22 and arraigned on May 3, according to the FBI statement.