Three men with links to al-Qaida who were believed to be planning terrorist bombings in Canada and aiding in deadly attacks on coalition forces in Afghanistan have been arrested.
On Friday, police also took into custody one of three other men being sought for plotting to "knowingly facilitate terrorist activities" in Canada's capital, Ottawa, other cities and abroad.
"This group posed a real and serious threat to the citizens of the national capital region and Canada's national security," said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Serge Therriault.
The planned targets won't be revealed until the trials of the accused, he said.
Police raided houses in Ottawa and London, Ontario, to arrest the suspects. They also seized more than 50 circuit boards designed to remotely detonate bombs as well as terrorist literature and instructional material.
The arrests follow "extensive surveillance," but police acted now as it was believed they were planning to send money to terrorists in Afghanistan for weapons to be used against coalition forces and Canadian troops.
Canada has been identified as a "legitimate target by various individuals who espouse an Islamist ideology," with the threat of terrorism being "very real," said Raymond Boisvert of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
The first three arrested were Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 30, Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, and Khurram Syed Sher, 28.
Russian bombers approach airspace
The Russians weren't invited to the party as Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Resolute in the Northwest Territories, but they made their presence known anyway.
Just before Harper's arrival, Russian bombers approached Canada's airspace and were turned back by two Canadian CF-18s.
The Russians have "knocked on Canada's airspace" more than two dozen times over the past few years, Canadian officials said.
There is "renewed foreign interest" in Canada's resource-rich arctic," Harper said.
"With foreign aircraft probing the skies, vessels plying northern waters and the eyes of the world gazing our way, we must remain vigilant," he added.
News in brief
• Authorities say women and children among the 492 Sri Lankan migrants smuggled to Canada on a rusty freighter docked in British Columbia will be released in the next week. The other "refugees" found not to be terrorists can remain in the country to await immigration hearings that could be three years away. In the meantime, they are eligible for welfare, medical, dental and social benefits as well as free legal aid.
• Russell Williams, former commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton in Ontario, will stand trial starting Oct. 7 in the sex murders of two women and sexual attacks on two others. Williams, 47, waived his right to a preliminary hearing to determine the extent of evidence against him and opted to go directly to trial.
Facts and figures
Canada's dollar is lower at 94.80 cents U.S., while the U.S. dollar returned $1.0549 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada's key interest rate is unchanged at 0.75 percent, while the prime lending rate is 2.75 percent.
Canadian stock markets were higher Friday, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,822 points and the TSX Venture Exchange at 1,478 points.
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• Prime Minister Harper gamely participated in a traditional Inuit dance during his week-long arctic tour. In front of 350 people, Harper put on gloves made of beaver fur and cowhide and danced to the beat of Inuit drummers. While in the north, he announced plans to create the first marine protected area in Canada's arctic, new roads and improvements to airports.
• Alberta politicians might someday consider a provincial sales tax as its fiscal deficit forecast reaches $4.8 billion. With oil and natural gas riches, it is the only province without a sales tax. For now one isn't planned, Finance Minister Ted Morton said. Albertans are "proud" there is no tax but the government should be "looking at all the options we have for smoothing out revenue volatility," he said.
• It could be bad news for the bears that were trained to protect a marijuana plantation near Christina Lake, Alberta. The dozen bears were fed dog food for years and might have to be destroyed as they might not adapt to wilderness survival, police said. There's an international outcry to save them, with conservation officers saying that feeding stations could lure them back to the wild and wean them from human handouts.
Jim Fox can be reached at [email protected]