TORONTO – A man accused of plotting with al-Qaida members in Iran to derail a train in Canada rejected the charges and said Tuesday that authorities were basing their conclusions on appearances. Law enforcement officials in the U.S. said the target was a train that runs between New York City and Canada.
Canadian investigators say Raed Jaser, 35, and his suspected accomplice, Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, received guidance but no money from members of al-Qaida in Iran. Iran released a statement saying it had nothing to do with the plot, though there were no claims in Canada that the attacks were sponsored directly by Iran.
Charges against the two men in Canada include conspiring to carry out an attack and murder people in association with a terrorist group. Police, tipped off by an imam worried by the behavior of one of the suspects, said it was the first known attack planned by al-Qaida in Canada.
Baucus, 71, to retire after Senate term
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana announced plans to retire at the end of his term after a career of enormous power and notable independence, producing both collaboration and conflict with fellow Democrats on major tax and health care legislation.
I don’t want to die here with my boots on. There is life beyond Congress, the 71-year-old Baucus told The Associated Press.
He became the eighth senator to announce retirement plans for 2014, and the sixth Democrat. One public poll recently suggested he would have faced a difficult challenge if he had sought a seventh term.
Israel: Assad using chemical weapons
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged NATO to prepare for the possible use of chemical weapons by Syria on the same day that a senior Israeli military intelligence official said Syrian President Bashar Assad had used such weapons last month in his battle against insurgents.
It was the first time Israel had accused the embattled Syrian leader of using his stockpile of nonconventional weapons.
The assessment, based on visual evidence, could raise pressure on the U.S. and other Western countries to intervene in Syria. Britain and France recently announced that they had evidence that Assad’s government had used chemical weapons.
President Obama has warned that the use of chemical weapons by Assad would be a game changer.
France approves gay marriage
France legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate that exposed deep conservatism in the nation’s heartland and triggered huge demonstrations that tapped into intense discontent with the Socialist government. Within hours, fiery clashes broke out in Paris between protesters and riot police.
Legions of officers stayed late into the night, and a protest against the measure turned violent near the Invalides complex of museums and monuments. Protesters threw glass bottles, cans and metal bars at police, who responded with tear gas.
It was an issue that galvanized the country’s faltering right, which had been decimated by infighting and their election loss to President Francois Hollande.
France is the 14th country, and most populous, to legalize gay marriage nationwide.
Myanmar pardons 93 prisoners
Myanmar’s president pardoned 93 prisoners, including at least 59 political detainees, a day after the European Union lifted sanctions against the Southeast Asian nation.
The pardon was announced on state television Tuesday amid renewed calls for President Thein Sein’s government to release hundreds more political prisoners believed to be behind bars.