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Higgins Can't Say As Much As He Hoped About Alleged Terror Plot

6:29 PM, Apr 30, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - Due to lingering security concerns, U.S. Rep Brian Higgins (D-NY27th) said he could not share as much information as he had hoped to by now, regarding an alleged terrorist plot to derail a passenger train, possibly the Maple Leaf, which crosses the Niagara Frontier on its daily runs between Toronto and New York City.

Two men remain in custody in connection with the alleged plot. The Royal Canadian Mounted police say that Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were supported by "al Qaeda elements" in Iran, but that their terrorism plot was not state-sponsored.

On Sunday, Higgins remarked to a Canadian news agency (CTV) that, "I suspect over the next 48 hours you'll see good verifiable information about just who was involved, who were they connected with and were they acting alone."

However, by Tuesday, Higgins told WGRZ-TV, "I had a classified briefing, but it's an ongoing investigation, so I can't comment on the ongoing investigation or its intended targets right now."

Higgins also declined to shed any more light on whether the alleged plot involved the Whirlpool Bridge as some have speculated.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) was also holding information he may have close to the vest.

"Their (the accused) basic plan was to blow up tracks, and let the train fall off the tracks, so there's speculation, not proven, that the Whirlpool Bridge would have been the most dangerous place to do that," said Schumer. "When you get briefed on a classified basis, law enforcement will tell you please don't reveal things...so I really can't comment any further."

Schumer made his remarks while in Buffalo to urge the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize the Niagara Frontier Transit Authority Police Department's application for an a federal anti-terrorism grant,.

Federal grant money was used for the NFTA to develop a counter terrorism team comprised of six Transit Police Department Officers and two explosive detection dogs. Schumer claims the unit will be forced to disband in May, unless new funding is secured.

On Tuesday, NFTA Police Chief George Gast revealed that his agency has been at least peripherally involved in the investigation into the alleged terrorist plot against the train.

"There was some information passed to our counterterrorism, team , that related to the investigation up in Canada. We reported that to the FBI and we will continue to work through the FBI and with Canadian authorities to either validate that information or discount it and I can't say anything more than that," Gast told reporters.

Higgins, meanwhile, predicts all will eventually be bared publicly, but not until it is deemed appropriate.

"I, as the ranking member of the counter terrorism and intelligence committee, we will be making a request to the chairman of the committee for a hearing on this terror plot in Toronto. We will have Canadian and U.S. law enforcement officials coming to Washington and they will be under oath to participate," Higgins said.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 on Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Charles Moore.
Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2

WGRZ-TV, wgrz.com

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