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April 22, 2013

Terror plot may have had local target

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Lockport Union-Sun & Journal —

"What does that mean exactly?" Hamdani wondered. "It could be words of support or inspiration. It could be 'Here's the idea I think you should use it.'"

A spokeswoman for the University of Sherbrooke near Montreal said Esseghaier studied there in 2008-2009. More recently, he has been doing doctoral research at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique, a spokeswoman at the training university confirmed.

Julie Martineau, a spokeswoman at the research institute, said Esseghaier began working at the center just outside Montreal in 2010 and was pursuing a Ph.D. in nanotechnology.

"We are, of course, very surprised," she said.

A LinkedIn page showing a man with Esseghaier's name and academic background said he helped author a number of biology research papers, including on HIV and cancer detection. The page says he was a student in Tunisia before moving to Canada in the summer of 2008.

The arrests came just a few months after two Canadians were discovered among militants killed in a terrorist siege at a gas plant in Algeria. At least 38 hostages and 29 militants were killed in the siege, including Ali Medlej and Xristos Katsiroubas, two high school friends from London, Ontario.

In 2006, Canadian police foiled the so-called Toronto 18 home grown plot to set off bombs outside Toronto's Stock Exchange, a building housing Canada's spy agency and a military base. The goal was to scare Canada into removing its troops from Afghanistan. The arrests made international headlines and heightened fears in a country where many people thought they were relatively immune from terrorist strikes.

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