The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested two unnamed Ottawa residents on Wednesday with suspected links to al-Qaida. The men are suspected of plotting a terrorist attack against Canadian targets.
A public safety spokesman said on Wednesday that "the government of Canada recognizes that violent extremism and radicalization pose a serious threat to Canada's national security." The homegrown-terror related arrests follows the 2006 plot of the "Toronto 18"– a cell in which al-Qaida inspired terrorists plotted to bomb targets including a military base, the Canadian Stock Exchange and the Toronto offices of Canada's spy agency. The National Post reported on Wednesday that the suspects "appear to have similar backgrounds" to the members of the "Toronto 18" cell.
Senior intelligence and law enforcement officials say that "homegrown Islamist extremism" is the top terrorist threat facing Canada today.
"Right now we're seeing a trend around what you would call the homegrown type of terrorism," RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud recently stated.
Salam Siddiqui, vice president of the Muslim Canadian Congress (MCC) commended the RCMP, "but we hope that the accused will be tried with due process, the presumption of innocence, and with full guarantees that their constitutional rights will be protected," she added.
Last month, Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Dick Fadden told the Commons public safety committee:
"We have had very clear evidence in this country that there have been terrorists seeking to do harm. The Toronto 18 are a clear example. We're monitoring a number of other cases in which we think there may be similar circumstances."
RCMP said in a news release on Wednesday afternoon that more arrests are anticipated.