Police in Canada have charged a minor with terrorism-related offences, after a Thursday evening raid on two properties in eastern Ontario which was part of a national security investigation that also involved the FBI.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police – Canada’s federal police force – said an adult male was also arrested in Kingston, Ontario, but was not charged.
The minor, who cannot be named, has been charged with “knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity” and “counselling a person to deliver, place, discharge or detonate an explosive … in or against a place of public use with intent to cause death or serious bodily injury”, the RCMP said in a statement.
“There was an attack planned,” Michael LeSage, a chief superintendent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told reporters at a press conference in Kingston on Friday. “At no time was there a direct threat to public safety.”
Police said they received “credible information” about a terror threat in December 2018 from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but there was no specific location or time of the planned attack.
Police did not confirm the identity of the second individual arrested, but multiple reports have identified him as Hussam Eddin Alzahabi, 20. His father confirmed to the Canadian Press that Alzahabi was arrested on Thursday night.
During the operation, police sealed off a neighbourhood in Kingston as they searched two houses. Video and photographs from the scene showed officers removing boxes of evidence from the properties.
Trace elements of explosive material were found in one of the houses, said LeSage, and the two individuals were attempting to “manufacture an improvised explosive device”. Police declined to comment on any motive.
As part of the operation, federal police flew a Pilatus PC-12 surveillance plane over Kingston for weeks. Residents in the city had previously complained about the mysterious buzzing noise in the sky.
Numerous government agencies were involved in the operation, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada.
“The government of Canada constantly monitors all potential threats and has robust measures in place to address them,” said the public safety minister, Ralph Goodale, in a statement.
The country’s threat level, which has been at “medium” since 2014, remains unchanged.