TORONTO (Reuters) – The Canadian police said on Friday they had charged a minor with terror-related offences in connection with a pair of national security raids in Kingston, Ontario Thursday night.
Two people were arrested late Thursday after the raids. One, a minor, has been charged with knowingly facilitating terrorism and counseling a person to place a bomb “or other lethal device” in public, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said in a statement.
A bomb was never placed, police said. As a minor, the person cannot be named under Canadian law.
The second person was identified by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp as 20-year-old Hussam Eddin Alzahabi. The RCMP said in its Friday morning statement the second suspect had not been charged.
The investigation originated from a Federal Bureau of Investigation tip in December and involved multiple agencies, RCMP officers said during a press conference.
“It was a substantial and credible attack plot, however there was no indication of where that attack was going to take place” and there was never any imminent danger to the public, RCMP officer Peter Lambertucci told reporters.
He said officers conducting the Thursday night arrests detonated “an element … believed to be an explosive substance.”
“We are confident that there is no risk to public safety and there are no trace elements remaining,” Lambertucci said.
In an interview with CBC following the arrests, Alzahabi’s father Amin Alzahabi protested his son’s innocence. The family, originally from Syria, came to Canada as privately sponsored refugees, according to a pastor at one of the churches who sponsored them.
Bronek Korczynski, a church member who sponsored the Alzahabi family, said he worries about the way the arrests will shape perceptions of Muslims and refugees in Canada.
“That is a fear, because that’s the kind of ill-informed knee-jerk reaction that puts any group in potential harm’s way. … This is hypothetically about two individuals who may or may not have made a bad decision.”
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the country’s official threat level would remain unchanged at “medium,” where it has been since 2014.
Goodale told reporters Friday afternoon it was too early to say whether the two suspects had been acting alone or were part of a larger group and cautioned against making assumptions about the case.
“Rather than leaping to conclusions, let the police do their job, let’s get the facts on the table,” he told a news conference in Edmonton, Alberta.
Kingston is a small city east of Toronto, home to a major university and several prisons.
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