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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Canada Foils Possible Terror Attack

TORONTO -- Canadian police foiled a homegrown terrorist attack by arresting 17 suspects, apparently inspired by al-Qaida, who obtained three times the amount of an explosive ingredient used in the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, officials said.

"These individuals were allegedly intent on committing acts of terrorism against their own country and their own people," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement Saturday. "As we have said on many occasions, Canada is not immune to the threat of terrorism."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested 12 adult suspects, ages 19 to 43, and five suspects younger than 18 on terrorism charges including plotting attacks with explosives on Canadian targets. The suspects were either citizens or residents of Canada and had trained together, police said.

The group acquired three tons of ammonium nitrate -- three times the amount used to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injured more than 800, assistant Royal Canadian Mounted Police commissioner Mike McDonell said. "This group posed a real and serious threat. It had the capacity and intent to carry out these attacks." The fertilizer can be mixed with fuel oil or other ingredients to make a bomb.

Luc Portelance, assistant director of operations with Canada's intelligence agency, CSIS, said the suspects "appeared to have become adherents of a violent ideology inspired by al-Qaida" but that investigators had yet to prove a link to the terror network.

Five of the suspects were led in handcuffs Saturday to the Ontario Court of Justice, which was surrounded by snipers and bomb-sniffing dogs. A judge told the men not to communicate with one another and set their first bail hearing for Tuesday.

Alvin Chand, a brother of suspect Steven Vikash Chand, said his brother was innocent and authorities "just want to show they're doing something."

"He's not a terrorist, come on. He's a Canadian citizen," Chand said. "The people that were arrested are good people: They go to the mosque, they go to school, go to college."

Officials at a news conference displayed purported bomb-making materials, including a red cell phone wired to what appeared to be an explosives detonator inside a black toolbox. Also shown were a computer hard drive, camouflage uniforms, flashlights and walkie-talkies.

The charges were filed under Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act, which was passed shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- and after Osama bin Laden named Canada as one of five "Christian" nations that should be terror targets. The other countries -- the United States, Britain, Spain and Australia -- have all been targeted.

""It's not terrorism. It could be some criminal activity with a few guys, that's all," said Aly Hindy, an imam of Scarborough's Salaheddin Islamic Center. "We are the ones always accused."