2nd man arrested in Kingston, Ont., ‘attack plot’ released without charge: RCMP
A second adult male was arrested but later released without charge.
The charges include “knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity,” and “counselling a person to deliver, place, discharge or detonate an explosive or other lethal device” in a public place.
The youth appeared at a bail hearing in Kingston on Friday. The case was adjourned until Monday, when he will make another court appearance via video.
At an afternoon news conference, RCMP Supt. Peter Lambertucci, officer in charge for INSET Ottawa, said “precursor” elements that could be used in explosives were found at one of the homes that was raided Thursday night, but said there were no added threats.
WATCH: RCMP confirms youth charged with terrorism in Kingston raids
Officials say a bomb was never placed. A shop owner near one of the residences in the raids told Global News police detonated something in a nearby parking lot early Friday. Officials confirmed that account, saying they detonated and neutralized a “substance.”
“We believe we have extinguished that threat,” Lambertucci said.
“It was a substantiated and credible attack plot” but no target, date, or location was part of the plot, officials said.
RCMP Chief Supt. Michael LeSage said the investigation started in December 2018 after receiving information in regards to a criminal threat.
He clarified that there was no immediate threat to the public.
WATCH: Father of man arrested in RCMP Kingston raids speaks
Asked about motive, Lambertucci said he wasn’t able to comment on a specific ideology.
“What I can say is the attack plan, the individual identified and expressed capacity and capability and intent, but to specific ideologies, I can’t comment on that,” he said.
WATCH: Recent RCMP charges on Kingston youth frustrate Calgary mom with first-hand experience.
LeSage also confirmed that a plane spotted in the community was part of the investigation, which involved more than 300 resources.
One of the houses raided belonged to a refugee family that fled to Canada from Syria. The family, whose adult son was arrested, was sponsored by four churches, including Our Lady of Lourdes church.
The RCMP said just before 6 p.m. on Friday that he had been released without charge earlier that afternoon.
Hussam Eddin Alzahabi, 20, is at home after being released around 1 p.m., according to his father, Amin Alzahabi.
He told Global News he believes his son is innocent.
“I know my son,” he said. “I trust him.”
At the press conference, police said the man was friends with the youth who was charged.
According to documents from the church, the family was sponsored by the congregation to come to Canada in 2016. The church helped the family, which was originally from Damascus, Syria, travel to Kingston from Kuwait.
Bronek Korcynski oversaw the church’s sponsorship of the family, which lasted a year. He said the son of the family was arrested in the raid.
“I was intimately involved with the sponsorship as co-chair of the group so I know the family very well,” Korcynski said. “This has come as a total shock.”
“It’s just so completely beyond anything we’ve experienced with the family. This is a group of people who have expressed nothing but gratitude for our assistance and to Canada for being able to welcome them.
“Their priority has been to build a new life here.”
Korcynski said the family’s son was working to get his high school marks up so he could get into university.
“I have been in contact with the father and I know right now their heads are spinning.”
WATCH: Youth charged with terrorism in connection to Kingston raids, RCMP say
Documents from St. Thomas Church, which was part of the group sponsoring the family, said the father had once been imprisoned for not joining Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s political party. It also said their home in Damascus was destroyed, and the family would be “vulnerable to arrest and ‘extreme measures'” if they returned to Syria.
The people who reside at the second house involved in the investigation were kind, a neighbour told Global News.
“They’re very nice. They brought food over at Christmas, and dropped off some canned good and welcomed me to the neighbourhood. They helped me move a couch in,” the neighbour said.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said on Twitter that RCMP “took action in Kingston, based on credible information, to ensure public safety.” He said the terror threat level remained at “medium,” as it has been since 2014.
WATCH: Boy charged, man arrested in terrorism investigation in Kingston, ON
RCMP thanked the FBI as well as other Canadian organizations for their help in the investigation.
“In particular, the RCMP would like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Kingston Police, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) for their cooperation and collaboration,” a release from the Mounties read.
Ward Elcock, Former CSIS director, told Global News that implies that there is a cross-border connection.
“It suggests that somebody from Kingston had contacted somebody in the United States or potentially somebody in the united states had contacted somebody in Kingston,” Elcock said.
“It isn’t quite clear what kind of information the FBI provided, what sort of communication had been intercepted.”
National security expert Stephanie Carvin said there are many questions left regarding the arrests, including the use of a plane spotted hundreds of times this month by Kingston residents.
Royal Military College Prof. Christian Leuprecht suggested the RCMP had to speed up their investigation when the plane started getting coverage on local news for its mysterious origins. When it was identified as an RCMP plane by local experts, Leuprecht said it could have raised concerns.
“When the RCMP is flying a plane here on a regular basis at night, it’s a good tip that something may be up,” he said.
The RCMP previously offered only a statement saying that its “primary concern is the safety and security of Canadians. We have multiple aircraft that support our mandate in Ontario and elsewhere in the country. To maintain the integrity of our investigations and operations, the location of our aircraft is not disclosed.”
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