VANCOUVER — Two Canadian-born citizens have been arrested and charged in what the RCMP described as al-Qaida-inspired plot to blow up the British Columbia legislature on Canada Day.
Officials with the force announced the allegations Tuesday, as they displayed photos of alleged pressure-cooker bombs reminiscent of the deadly Boston Marathon bombings.
John Stewart Nuttall, born in 1974, and Amanda Marie Korody, born in 1983, were each charged with knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity, making or possessing an explosive device, and conspiracy.
They were arrested in Abbotsford on Monday, the RCMP said. The two made a brief appearance in court Tuesday and the case was put over until July 9.
Assistant Commissioner Wayne Rideout said the charges involved a “domestic threat” to target Canada Day festivities on the grounds of the provincial legislature in Victoria. There were no links to international organizations, said Rideout.
“This self-radicalized behaviour was intended to create maximum impact and harm to Canadian citizens at the B.C. legislature on a national holiday,” Rideout told a news conference in Surrey, B.C.
“They took steps to educate themselves and produce explosive devices designed to cause injury and death. … They discussed a wide variety of targets and techniques.”
The RCMP revealed little about the suspects and their background or what may have motivated the alleged conspiracy, other than repeatedly saying the pot was linked to an “al-Qaida ideology.”
When asked whether the plot had a religious motive or was instead driven by something else, Assistant Commissioner James Malizia sidestepped the question.
“When I refer to radicalized or self-radicalized, it is radicalized to violence, so taking violent acts with a specific ideology in place,” said Malizia.
“In this case here, the ideology had to do with a criminal act, wanting to pursue criminal act on behalf of an organization that they believed in, and that organization and the ideology behind that organization as you know it is the al-Qaida ideology.”
The RCMP said the force has been following the suspects’ activities for months and said investigators ensured the alleged bombs were harmless. Beyond that, the force declined to comment on the specifics of its investigation, such as whether officers had infiltrated the plot.
News of the latest homegrown terrorism plot came more than two months after pressure cooker bombs were used to target the Boston Marathon, where a pair of explosions killed three people and injured more than 260.
The RCMP categorically ruled out any links to the Boston bombings at Tuesday’s news conference.
Within days of the bombing in Boston, the RCMP announced charges in an alleged cross-border plot to bomb a Via Rail passenger train.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark said she was profoundly shocked by news of the arrests.
“But let me say this to those who resort to terror: You will not succeed,” Clark told reporters at the legislature in Victoria.
“You will not succeed in damaging our democratic institutions. Just as importantly, you will not succeed in tearing down the values that make this country strong.”
Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews applauded the work of the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation.
“Yesterday’s arrests demonstrate that terrorism continues to be a real threat to Canada,” Toews said in a statement.
“The RCMP has assured me that at no time during the course of this investigation was there an imminent risk to the safety of Canadians.”