Via Rail Terror Plot : The Inside Man – The Fifth Estate
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Via Rail Terror Plot : The Inside Man – The Fifth Estate

[ ♪♪ ] [train rolls by]>>They were planning to
break up the tracks right around the bridge. Initially it was going
to be with jackhammers, and eventually it
turned into explosives. They wanted to derail the train
at that particular location so as to maximize casualties. What I am is a
professional undercover. If I’m called to testify,
my job is to make sure you rot in prison. They were two terrorists
planning to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of people. They didn’t want anyone
to survive this attack.>>Announcer: On this edition
of The Fifth Estate, Habiba Nosheen investigates
how an undercover FBI agent infiltrated
a terrorist cell. A Canadian TV exclusive.>>Habiba: So, you
become different people.>>That’s correct. I assume different identities,
to infiltrate terror groups across the country and
sometimes across the world. [ ♪♪ ]>>Canadian police say
after months of surveillance, two suspects are now in custody
and charged with conspiracy to commit a terrorist act.>>Police foil an alleged
terror plot to attack a Via Rail passenger train.>>Al-Qaeda in Iran
was connected to this.>>..charges to commit an act
of terrorism…>>Habiba: It was
hailed as a huge victory. Authorities on both sides of the
border stepped on the stage and revealed that they had
stopped a terrorist plot dead in its tracks.>>The RCMP is alleging that
Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were conspiring to carry out
an al-Qaeda-supported attack against a Via passenger train.>>Habiba: But what led to the
arrest that day was a carefully orchestrated dance. An FBI undercover agent managed
to infiltrate the men suspected of planning the attack. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: That agent agrees
to meet with us recently in New York. Who was he? These days, he works with
the FBI’s elite Joint Terrorism Task Force. For years, he was on the streets
busting drug smugglers and thugs in the back alleys, a cop
risking his life every day. After negotiations with the FBI,
he agrees to be interviewed on the condition we don’t
reveal his identity.>>How are you doing?>>Habiba: Good, how are you?
>>Good.>>Habiba: His voice has been
changed, and his face altered with Hollywood-style
prosthetic makeup. I’m sitting in front of you,
I’m looking at a person, but this is not what
you actually look like.>>No, that’s correct.>>Habiba: Tell us why we
can’t see the real you.>>Well, I work undercover
for the US Government, in counter-terrorism
investigations. I’m still active and obviously
my true identity is sensitive.>>Habiba: We’re calling
you “Tamer Elnoury” for this interview. But that’s not your
real name either.>>That’s correct.>>Habiba: Who is Tamer Elnoury?>>Today, I’m sitting here
before you as Tamer Elnoury. It’s one of my multiple aliases
that I use to do the work that I do. I am a Joint Terrorism Taskforce
officer, assigned to the FBI undercover program.>>Habiba: How do you
become Tamer Elnoury?>>Well, essentially
creating a legend, or an al–>>What’s a legend?
>>Legend is the alias.>>Habiba: So a fake identity?>>Fake identity,
persona, back story.>>Habiba: How much of
Tamer Elnoury is really inspired by who you really are?>>All of it. Every bit of it, except for
the radical element. The best legends, the best
undercover personas, are the ones that are
closest to who you really are. And that’s your best bet,
because it’s hard to mess up you.>>Habiba: So it’s
not just name changing. It’s not just– do you
dress differently?>>I do, yes.
>>Habiba: Okay.>>I usually do. I have multiple manila
folders, in a safe at home, with whichever
persona I’m doing.>>Habiba: So, people
you’re trying to befriend, do you invite them to your home?>>Of course.>>Habiba: And are there
pictures of you with fake Mom and Dad that you cut
out of a magazine?>>Well, Habiba, let me
put it to you this way. What would it take for someone
to tap you on the shoulder and become your friend? And that’s essentially
the undercover technique. I have to present myself in
a way where they choose me, and I’m not choosing them.>>Habiba: I wonder what
that does to your mind. When you wake up in the morning,
do you– does it take you a minute to say,
“Who am I today?”>>I call it flipping a switch.
[ ♪♪ ] I wake up, as my
true self, obviously, I take a shower, and then
it’s Tamer Elnoury time. I put on his watch.
I put on his clothes. His wallet’s in my pocket. I’m driving his car. I usually drive to the beach. That’s my method.
That’s how I do. I get to the beach, and I talk
to myself like a crazy person, basically reciting my
social security number, my date of birth, my mother’s
maiden name, my job. “How you doing?
“I’m Tamer Elnoury.” And I never flip the switch back
until I get home. [ ♪♪ ] [ Chattering ]>>It’s falling!>>Habiba: 9/11, a moment of
crisis for all. [ Siren Wails ]>>Habiba: A moment
of change for him. He realized he had something
few other agents had… He spoke Arabic fluently,
and was a practising Muslim and an American patriot. You’re a Muslim.
>>Yes.>>Habiba: That’s how you
identify yourself. You’re fluent in Arabic,
and an FBI agent. How rare is that combination?>>Well, I guess it is
pretty rare. I guess rare would
be the right word. I was born in Egypt. Came to the States when I was
about four and a half years old. Arabic is my first language. There’s no such thing as ESL
or English As A Second Language back then. It was sink or swim, and I was
that little foreigner kid in First grade winning
the spelling bees.>>Habiba: Spring of 2012,
the FBI zero in on a man whose travels to Iran and
communication with suspected al-Qaeda members are
raising an alert. The man is Chiheb Esseghaier. Agent Elnoury is
told to check him out.>>I got a phone call
from FBI Headquarters, saying that New York has a case. Um, they said, “He’s a
Canadian resident. “He lives in Montréal. “He’s a PhD student. “We’d like you to
get in front of him “to gauge
his threat level.” As I say, take his temperature.>>Habiba: Take his temperature.
>>That’s what I call it, yes.>>Habiba: What does
that entail?>>What is he?
Is he a radical jihadi? Is he a poser? Is he a guy that
just likes to talk? Is he a guy that just has
fantastical beliefs and isn’t anything? Or is he truly a
threat to society?>>Habiba: I imagine you can’t
just go up to a terrorist and say, “Hey, wanna be
my friend?” How do you enter his world?>>I break down
his pattern of life. I see what he does, morning,
noon, and night.>>Habiba: How do you see that?>>Surveillance, investigative.
>>Habiba: Mmm-hmm.>>I break down his
pattern of life based on all the intelligence that
I have before me.>>Habiba: Sunday, June 17,
2012, Father’s Day. The target is
headed to San Jose, California.>>Chiheb was on his
way to a conference, bio-nanotechnology. His work was very complicated.>>Habiba: Agent Elnoury
boards the flight. The mission was clear… Find out if the target
is a genuine threat. Elnoury poses as an
Egyptian-born real estate investor on the hunt to fund his
next terrorist plot to wage a war against America. Chiheb Esseghaier
takes the bait.>>He saw my beard. He saw my face. He approached me
and he said, “As-salaam alaikum, brother.
[ Speaking Alternate Language ]>>..which means, “Do you
speak Arabic?” And I responded, in Arabic,
“Of course I do.” [ Speaking Alternate Language ]>>..the extended Islamic
reading, which basically sent a message without saying
anything that, yes, I’m religious, yes, I speak
your language, and I’m looking you in the eye. He then turned to the
flight attendant and said, “We must sit together.” He chose me. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: The men meet
for dinner the next night. Elnoury is told to get
close to the target, find out everything. For the next few days,
Elnoury records his every word.>>It was a quiet dinner
at a halal restaurant.>>Habiba: To draw
out Esseghaier, the undercover agent pulls
a signature move from the FBI’s playbook. He shares a story about how he
turned from a mainstream Muslim to a radical.>>You gotta have a story. You gotta have a
back story as to, why did you, you know–?>>Habiba: Become a jihadist.
>>Exactly. There has to be something that
changed, that changed you.>>Habiba: That you can
sell to other terrorists.>>Correct.
[ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: The agent convinces
Esseghaier that he became a radical when he watched his
mother die in a hospital in America, and instead of doctors
and nurses helping to save her life, they ridiculed her. So tell me the
version you told him. Sell it to me.>>I walked into the room and
her doctor was standing at the foot of her bed,
looking through her chart. It was silence. All I heard was the respirator. The nurses are outside laughing. I heard one of them make a joke
about the fact that she probably got a tumor because
she wears a hijab. The doctor was disrespectful
and discourteous to my father because he had an accent. Chiheb, I spent my entire
life trying to look like them, sound like them, be like them. I dressed like them. And when I needed them the most
they were letting my mother die.>>Habiba: It was a lie, but one
that drew on details from his mother’s actual death. The doctors and nurses
were great to the family. Only in this fictionalized
version were they racist.>>I added that in to
add flavour to his hatred and fuel his hatred. But most of that story was real.>>Habiba: So you used
your mother’s death.>>I did.>>Habiba: Any guilt
about that at all?>>Quite the opposite.
>>Habiba: Hmmm. My mother taught me what it
means to be a great American and a patriot. She taught me what it
means to be a great Muslim. Using my mother’s story to get
close to these guys to unravel their plots for death and their
plans to kill innocents is one of my greatest badges of honour. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: The move did work. Before the dinner was over,
Agent Elnoury says he had Esseghaier on tape
trying to recruit him.>>My conclusion was he
is absolutely a threat. That point in time, I was
thinking I’m never going to see Chiheb Esseghaier again. It’s done. He’s on Canadian soil. It’s a Canadian investigation.>>Habiba: But as
Agent Elnoury would learn, that’s not exactly how
things would turn out. [ ♪♪ ] [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: New York City,
August 30, 2012. FBI and Canadian law enforcement
officials are in a panic. They call an emergency meeting.>>The intelligence came
out that there was a terrorist plot
being planned.>>Habiba: Undercover Agent
Tamer Elnoury is summoned. Authorities have been
monitoring a suspect in Canada. And they worry
he’s about to act. It’s the man Agent Elnoury
met, Montréal PhD student Chiheb Esseghaier. He has been discussing
a plot with this man, Raed Jaser, a 34 year old
from Toronto. Suddenly, an attack
seems imminent. And the clock is ticking.>>People were nervous. They gleaned that this was
actually a mission with his Palestinian friend Raed Jaser to
blow some train tracks to derail a train.>>Habiba: The Canadian and
American authorities need Agent Elnoury back on the
target, this time in Canada.>>And that’s when the
investigation went from intelligence gathering to a
law enforcement operation. And that’s when the
RCMP got on board. The FBI then flew up, met with
the RCMP to create the playing ground for me, because this
was very unique. This had never happened. FBI in Canada– how was that
going to work?>>Habiba: Why couldn’t they
use one of their own guys?>>I had a relationship with
him already. And, again, they thought
that the act was imminent.>>Habiba: They didn’t have
time to bring someone else?>>They didn’t have time.
They didn’t have time to do– I had months to ingratiate
myself with him. I developed a
relationship with him, and all I had to do was
take it to the next level. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: Montréal,
September 2012. Agent Elnoury is now on the
ground in Canada reconnecting with his target.>>I get into Montréal.
I see Chiheb. We hadn’t seen
each other in months, but we talk all the time. He says that him and a dear
friend of his have plans or projects.>>Habiba: Within 24 hours,
Elnoury is on a road trip with Esseghaier.>>He tells me
we’re going to Toronto. So, he’s bringing me in. He’s bringing me along. We have a six hour car
ride to have a discussion, and I get to work him. This is a six hour
interrogation, but he just doesn’t know it. When the opportunity presents
itself and we’re starting to go down a road, he makes
me shut my phones off, take the batteries out,
to make sure that we aren’t being listened to. I get really excited when
he tells me to do that, because then I know he’s about
to say something that I want to hear. He says that, “The dear brothers, they gave
me a project.”>>Habiba: And this is al-Qaeda
he’s talking about?>>This is al-Qaeda. He tells me that one of the
plots was to derail a train, and we’re going to visit a dear
brother who was in this plot with him to derail a train
in the Greater Toronto Area.>>Habiba: And that
seals Esseghaier’s fate. Elnoury now has him on tape
admitting to an actual plot, a key element for a conviction. But the day is not over yet. They are about to
meet another man.>>We drive over to
Toronto and I meet Jaser. It was around 11,
11:30 at night. It was late.>>Habiba: What is he like?>>At the time I met him,
he was a taxI dispatcher. He is Palestinian. He was in full Islamic garb. He’s a religious man.
He’s married. Very gracious upon
entry to his home.>>Habiba: Later, the three men
take a walk through the quiet suburban streets.>>Right off the bat, as soon
as we walk out of that house, Jaser instructs us to keep
our cellphones in the car, we don’t need them. He’s showing off his
operational security. He’s showing off that he’s
aware of his surroundings. He instructs us to walk in the
middle of the street so that we couldn’t possibly be
overheard by anyone. And he knew the conversation
we were about to have, and that’s when Chiheb
pitched the entire train plot to me all over again. I waited till he was done,
and I gave them the– the reception that they wanted. My reaction was, “Mashallah, by the grace of God,
praise Allah.” I was showing that I was so
enamored that they would let me into a plot that I could
actually get my hands dirty. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: The agent
now zooms in on Jaser. You wanted Jaser to talk.>>I wanted Jaser to talk,
and that’s when he started saying that they feel
safe over here. “We’re going to make
them scared. “We’re going to
punish them.” He says, “Let’s do this.” We’re now three brothers,
going to derail a train.>>Habiba: Is your case made
at this point against these two men?>>Legally, probably,
at this point.>>Habiba: So,
you’re feeling good.>>I’m feeling pretty good. We’ve got a conspiracy to
commit murder for the benefit of a terrorist group. We pretty much checked a
lot of boxes that night. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: The next day,
Agent Elnoury finds himself praying side by side
with Esseghaier, a man he suspects of
being a terrorist. Do you pray as yourself, or do
you pray as the person you’re pretending to be?>>Always.
I’m a Muslim. I always like to
lose myself in prayer, but there is– it’s quiet. It’s to myself. Sometimes I don’t
get to be myself, and that does bother me,
but generally speaking, I’m always praying, and
Allah knows what’s in my heart.>>Habiba: So, you talked
to God in that moment?>>Of course.>>Habiba: Do you recall what
you would have prayed about?>>Absolutely, I remember
it like it was yesterday. It was– I prayed to God to give
me the strength to stop them dead in their tracks and
identify anyone else that was involved. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: Then the
talk turns to action. The agent is invited by his
new friends to scout out a train bridge for a possible attack.>>I get invited to recon the
bridge with them in Scarborough, just outside of Toronto. To get to the bridge,
the actual train bridge, we had to essentially walk
through non-paved area. So, as we’re getting
close to the tracks, I see the bridge, and I
realize it’s probably, what, two, two and a half feet
between the two sets of tracks. And then maybe three,
three and a half feet on either side, and about
100-foot drop into a very shallow,
rocky water. We needed to scout the
location, videotape the tracks, and get a general gist of
how we were going to dismantle these tracks.>>Habiba: These tracks
are operational. But Esseghaier assures
the men they’re safe. He has checked the schedule. But he’s wrong. This surveillance video from
that day shows a train speeding full force
towards the three men. Miraculously, they avoid
being crushed just in the nick of time.>>The train made the
turn, and it is blowing by, and you could just feel it
thundering in your chest. Your adrenaline’s going up. I make eye contact
with the engineer, who’s half out the
window staring at us like, “What are you doing? “Why are you on this bridge?” You know, I almost peed
my pants.>>Habiba: The dangerous
encounter on the tracks doesn’t phase Esseghaier. He seems determined
to carry through. You say, “In all the years I’ve
been doing this no one has made “the hair on my neck
stand like Chiheb.”>>Yes, that’s correct.>>Habiba: Why?>>When he’s not being
this crazy radical person, he has a deep, hearty laugh. He smiles. He’s a smart person,
very intellectual, but when
he flips that switch, and he talks about death and
destruction in the name of Islam, there is a death or
a darkness in his eyes like I’ve never seen before. It sends a chill
down your spine. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: But soon there would
be questions about how competent these would-be
terrorists really were. I’ve heard this case being
described as just two dumb guys with
a terrible plot.>>I wouldn’t
disagree with that. [train rolls by] [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: It’s the
fall of 2012. Authorities have two men
on their radar as potential terrorists and are
tracking their every move. This surveillance footage
shows the two plotters, and an undercover FBI
agent with his face pixelated. That day, the bizarre scene on
the bridge where the men are almost run over by a train
attracts the local police.>>We were being surrounded. I saw what was happening
and then as I saw the cops I realized that the train
conductor called the police.>>Habiba: The local cops have
no idea they are talking to two suspected terrorists. Montréal PhD student
Chiheb Esseghaier, and a taxI dispatcher from
Toronto named Raed Jaser, find themselves coming face
to face with the authorities. The agent has to think quickly.>>The problem was we needed
to get out of that situation without anybody, you know,
getting arrested, so I lied. I said we meant to go for a walk
and we ended up taking a wrong turn, and we ended up
on that bridge. We were admiring the
beauty of the water. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: The whole
reconnaissance trip has turned into a farce. Later, Agent Elnoury would
face questions. Could the men who couldn’t
read a train schedule really have pulled
off a terror attack? How realistic was
that plan? [ Clears Throat ]>>Well, would you
want to find out?>>Habiba: How do you determine
if someone’s actually a real threat, or if they just have
these fantastical ideas about, “I’m going to blow up the
statue of liberty”? But how do you–
>>That’s a great question. And I guess the best way to
answer that is, I’ll tell you, in my ten years of doing
covert terrorism work, I’ve sat in front of
a bunch of posers, guys that like to talk. I’ve sat in front of
the real deal. I know the difference. And–>>Habiba: Was Chiheb
a real deal?>>Chiheb was
absolutely the real deal. He was motivated beyond belief.>>Habiba: Whether or not
Chiheb Esseghaier was the real deal, the plan
is quickly unravelling. Jaser, the man who
helped him hatch the plot, is spooked by the
authorities showing up. There is growing
tension between the men. John Norris is Jaser’s lawyer.>>I think we are prepared
to concede that the police had good reason to look into what Mr Esseghaier and
Mr Jaser were doing. Information came
to their attention. It was appropriate for
them to look into it. But after that, things, I think,
became quite problematic. They were heading off in
completely different directions, and were utterly
lacking in any capacity.>>Habiba: The two men start
to argue about how to carry out the plot. And some of the ideas
are simply improbable.>>One of the lines that has
stuck with me and really struck me at the time, Mr Jaser says,
“I think we need a laser. “We need a
military grade laser.” What in the world is that?>>Habiba: I don’t know.
>>Exactly. There’s no such thing.
>>Habiba: Okay.>>And so, I think that is
a good indication of how sophisticated
this plan ever got. So, quite bizarre, indeed even
ludicrous schemes. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: But the
investigation continues. Then the rift between the
two men boils over, and Jaser pulls out. The undercover agent suggests
that they look for a new partner to replace Jaser. That’s when they turned their
attention to Esseghaier’s friend in Québec City, Ahmed Abassi. Abassi seems like
the perfect fit. A 26-year-old grad
student in engineering, originally from Tunisia,
he was known for his anger against America. Agent Elnoury
says when he meets Abassi, alarm bells go off.>>I wanted to meet
Ahmed Abassi, and I got in front of him, and he was
absolutely savvy and cunning, deceptive, and I felt very
strongly about our initial meet, that we needed to
continue this relationship, so I can truly vet
his true intentions, and whether or not he
is an actual threat.>>Habiba: In December 2012,
Abassi goes home to visit his family. That’s when the plan to spend
more time face to face with Abassi hits a bump. Without warning, Canada
revokes his student visa, separating him from his
wife back in Québec City. What do you know
happened with his visa?>>It was revoked
while he was overseas.>>Habiba: By the Canadians?>>By the Canadians, yes. And listen, I get it. This investigation has
been drawn out a lot longer. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: Agent Elnoury
wants Ahmed Abassi back. He comes up with a plan to
lure him to New York. The agent knows he needs more
evidence before he can lock him up. So, how do you get
him to come here?>>I have him ask me for help. I said, “My lawyers
could possibly look at it. “I’ll sponsor your visa. “Come stay in New York. “At least you’re
closer to your wife, “and we’ll go from there.” He was very
appreciative of the offer. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: And once in New York,
Elnoury sets him up with an apartment at this luxury
building in Downtown Manhattan, and goes to work on him.>>It takes some doing. At first, he was a shell of
a man that he used to be, that I met, because of how
nervous and shaken he was by all of this that was
happening to him. After a couple of weeks,
he was able to settle in, and the Abassi that I met in
Québec City the year before was finally back. He stayed right
done the road here, right near the 9/11 Memorial. To him, that was a victory lap. He was at the sight of
his idols greatest victory, greatest attack. His true colours
started coming out. He tried to come up
with his own ideas. He would say
nuclear engineering, and use his degree to
basically melt nuclear reactors.>>Habiba: The agent might
not like what he was hearing, but there was nothing illegal
about Abassi’s angry rants. And despite many
attempts by Agent Elnoury, Abassi never agrees
to carry out a plot. Sabrina Shroff is Ahmed Abassi’s
lawyer based in New York.>>Everybody knows my client
was entrapped. Any fool who just hears this
story on the street would turn around and say to my client, “Damn, you’re a dumbass for
getting caught up in this.” It’s obvious.>>Habiba: Shroff believes her
client was manipulated and led down a path by an
overzealous agent.>>I want you to have
this mental picture. I want you to think of a person
with a saline drip in his arm. That’s what the undercover was.>>Habiba: How so?>>Because he inserted himself
into every part of my client’s life. He offered him a job. He offered him a visa. He offered him money. He offered him a ticket. He offered him a way out. He offered him a chance
to reunite with his wife. They never turned him. They never turned him into
the man they wanted him to be. They never turned
him into a terrorist. He didn’t do
anything, repeatedly, for months at a time,
despite great pressure. Mr Abassi never did anything.>>Habiba: When the
operation finally wraps up, the only charge the FBI
managed to stick to Abassi is visa fraud. Yet, Agent Elnoury still
says Abassi is a dangerous man.>>Without a shadow of
a doubt that he was, and is, to this day,
a terrorist, and that he meant harm,
specifically to the United States. His gripe was to
the United States. His idol was Osama bin Laden. And he had visions and dreams
of wiping the US off the planet.>>Habiba: But he still has
never been convicted in the court of law of any
terrorism-related charges, so how can you
call him a terrorist?>>He is
absolutely a terrorist. Ahmed Abassi, and I will
stick my career on it, is a stone-cold terrorist.>>Habiba: But isn’t
that for the law to decide? Isn’t that what our legal system
of checks and balances is all about?>>Mmm-hmm.>>Habiba: That you as an agent
don’t get to put someone in a trial based on
your investigation, that it’s– you have to hand
that off to the courts?>>And the people that you’re–
assume you’re playing devil’s advocate and
you don’t feel that way, then we got it right,
because if it were up to me, he’d be rotting in jail,
and it’s not up to me.>>Habiba: Is that a
good thing or a bad thing?>>I think it’s a good thing. I will be the first
person to tell you, I get emotional, okay? I’ve got a little Arab in
New York in me, so I’m gonna tell you right now,
yeah, I get fired up. At least I can sleep easy
with Abassi being out there, that the world knows who he is.>>Habiba: He says that based
on his over ten years of FBI and undercover operation experience,
he knows in his gut that Mr Abassi is a terrorist.>>Gut? I think the United States law
makes it clear that gut is not probable cause. Gut? Okay, well, we’re glad none of
us moved on his gut because what he ended up doing by acting on
his gut is ruining a very nice person’s entire life. And, and– despite
his many efforts, at every step, Mr Abassi
has approved his gut wrong.>>Habiba: Ottawa, Spring 2013. Canadian authorities are anxious
to arrest the two suspects and end the investigation. But Elnoury is
desperate to keep it going. He says he has a reason… He believes he was getting
valuable intelligence from Esseghaier, including
information about al-Qaeda senior leaders. Then, in one of
the conversations, Esseghaier let it slip that Al
Qaeda has a man in America ready to strike.>>He told me that there was
an American version of him in America, which,
obviously, at that moment, I lost my mind.>>Habiba: He tells you it’s an
American who is laying low until the right moment where he’s
going to commit some kind of a terrorist act.>>Taking orders from the
highest levels of al-Qaeda. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: Agent Elnoury says
he’s shaken by that bombshell. He worries about another
possible 9/11 type of attack, and is desperate to get
more intel from Esseghaier. But he’s out of time. By April 2013, Canadian
authorities decide to end the case. They have enough to make the
arrest and are stretched for resources. On April 22nd, 2013, after a
ten month long investigation, Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed
Jaser are arrested in Canada. [ Siren Wails ]>>Habiba: Ahmed Abassi is
rounded up the same day in New York. The investigation is over. And it would seem
like good news, but, surprisingly,
it’s Agent Elnoury’s worst fear. What goes through your mind
when this operation ends?>>We lost the American sleeper. There hasn’t been a day that
I’ve woken up since the end of this investigation where
I have not thought about the American sleeper.>>Habiba: Do you
think you failed?>>Of course I do. Of course it was. How else– how else
can you describe it?>>Habiba: The men
were behind bars. The undercover agent would have
to now defend his investigation in a Canadian court. [ ♪♪ ]>>Announcer: There is
always more to our stories. You can keep up with The Fifth
Estate by subscribing to our weekly news weather. We’ll tell you what
we’re working on, and share updates
on past stories. Sign up on our website
at [ ♪♪ ] [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: Toronto,
February 2015. The investigation dubbed
“operation smooth” has wrapped up. The two terror suspects
stood trial in Toronto. Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser
were facing a life sentence. The authorities have hours of
recordings of the men discussing the plan to
derail the train. Until now, the undercover agent
had been playing the role of Tamer Elnoury, and now he
had to face the suspects as his real self. What was it like seeing Chiheb
and Jaser in the court as the real you, and testifying in
front of them that everything you had told them had
essentially been a lie?>>Walking into that courtroom
and seeing Chiheb for the first time, he had the blankest
stare I’d ever seen, it did kind of turn my stomach
upside down a little bit. I wanted him to be mad. I wanted him to be forgiving. I wanted him to smile. I wanted him to spit at me. I wanted him to do something. But that blank stare kinda
stopped me dead in my tracks. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: Esseghaier seemed
unwilling to believe that his closest friend, Tamer Elnoury,
had betrayed him.>>It took him about a month
to be convinced that I was FBI. He didn’t believe it. They played him recordings. He assumed that
the car was bugged, the house was bugged, that I had
nothing to do with it.>>Habiba: In an unusual move,
Esseghaier refused a lawyer and decided to represent himself. He was examined by
two psychiatrists, and they both confirmed he’s
likely schizophrenic. But the judge ruled he was
competent to stand trial. Did you ever wonder if
he was mentally sane?>>That is not my job, Habiba,
I’m not a psychiatrist. Regardless what
his reasons were, he was trying to
kill human beings. He was committing a
conspiracy to commit murder. Leave all that other
stuff for the courts.>>Habiba: But what are the
systems of checks and balance in place to make sure that you
call the right people and say, “Hey, you know, this guy
has to go to the hospital?”>>I don’t have the
luxury of diagnosing anyone. If innocent lives are at stake,
I’m not going to try to read between the lines. If I’m called to testify,
my job is to make sure you rot in prison. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: And that’s
exactly what happened. Both suspects,
Esseghaier and Jaser, are sentenced to life.>>Our client and of course
us, and Raed’s family, are disappointed with
the ultimate outcome.>>Habiba: Jaser’s
lawyer, John Noris. Do you think Canada or the world
is safer with these two men behind bars?>>No, because I don’t think
either of them posed a risk. I think– and it raises,
I think, very serious concerns about the role of
the undercover. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: Esseghaier is now
being treated for schizophrenia in prison. Both he and Jaser are
appealing their verdicts. As for Ahmed Abassi,
the engineering student who studied in Québec City, he was
deported back to Tunisia. I’ve spoken to him in
Tunisia and he hates you. He thinks you
destroyed his life, and he says– and so does his
lawyer– that if he’s not been convicted of a terrorist crime,
you don’t have the right to paint him as a
terrorist all around the world.>>I have the right
to tell the truth, and I have recordings that back
up the fact that he said America needs to be wiped
off this planet.>>Habiba: Ahmed Abassi’s lawyer
Sabrina Shroff says she thinks the FBI targeted her client
because he’s Muslim.>>Is the undercover going to go
out there, infiltrate mosque after mosque, home after home? Is gonna target the
entire Muslim community? And– and–and lock up what? What is his target audience? The weak, the vulnerable,
the ill? I’m sorry, I’m not really clear
how he thinks he’s achieved this goal of national security
by– by the actions he took.>>Habiba: I’ve spoken to a
lot of people from the Muslim community who say they don’t
feel like the FBI has their back, that they’re
constantly under surveillance, that they’re targeted
for their skin colour. When you hear that, what do you
say to those folks who just feel like the FBI just
doesn’t have their back?>>Habiba, that’s another
reason why I’m sitting here with you. I’m here to tell the
Islamic community in Canada, in the US,
that is absolutely false. They are not being
spied upon by the FBI.>>Habiba: That’s not
how the community feels.>>I’m sitting here before you. I’m a Muslim American. I was born in the Middle East. I work for the government. And I’m telling you
I have never seen, or been a part of, any targeted
investigation where someone was targeted simply because of
their faith. That’s absolutely not true. [ ♪♪ ]>>Habiba: With
the case behind him, Elnoury says he decided to tell
his story because as a Muslim who investigates
suspected terrorists, he wants to confront what he
believes are the misconceptions about his religion and
the job that he does.>>I am appalled by what these
animals are doing to my country while desecrating my religion. There’s such a small
group, these radical mindset, that actually believe that it
is within the tenets of the religion to kill another
human being in the name of God. That is absolutely not true. Not only is it not true. It’s disgusting and deplorable. [ ♪♪ ]

100 thoughts on “Via Rail Terror Plot : The Inside Man – The Fifth Estate

  1. What a messed up job. Theres not enough money in the world to deal with the mental health. Lawyers make me sick. Heartless money hungry.

  2. I am not even 10 minutes in and this interviewer is getting on my nerves… She completely asks irrelevant or least important questions wasting the interview… Just look at the way she handled Joshua Boyle & his wife's interview… She seems to me to have gotten this job only for being a non-white female… She is terrible FFS… Can't continue watching this… I am not gonna dislike this video only because the dude did a great service for humanity…

  3. Marijuana is not even legal here so how will they sell cdb without a prescription… Still thinking about what I saw somewhere else

  4. Having been working along with the FBI nearly 35 years ago I am shocked to see an international undercover agent being interviewed, even disguised. Hard to believe this man's handlers agreed and authorized this interview.

  5. Someone who has exceptional skills of going undercover and investigating and who is fluent in Arabic and is AMERICAN till the very core of the heart is America’s most deadly weapon 💪🏼👍🏼👍🏼 🇺🇸

  6. This interviewer is GENUINELY terrible. "any guilt about that" in reference to him using his mothers death story, how obnoxious! what kind of journalism is that? we're here to learn about how he infiltrated a terrorist plot not personal conflicts about his character. fifth estate is amazing but this was a big flop.

  7. That's like in team America where he's undercover and he says his goats died from the infidels and he put a jihad on them

  8. they have him saying they want to blow up train bridge an kill American,s// So how do you people want to say these person,s are not a sleeper terror cell .!! they where completely . we have other persons they have told about the plot other then the AGENT !!]

    Real true fact,s

  9. Ture hero, I think all Canadians should thank this brave man. and by the way, as a CBC reporter, she does not seem respect to this guy. I feel sorry for that as a Canadian.

  10. Stupid. I could figure out who he is if I looked at pictures closely. Let me say it again. Stupid. He had very distinct eyes. No need to show his face so closely.

  11. I am so confused to the point of this piece.. The title should have read "Our biased interview with the FBI regarding an investigation that we don't believe" After watching literally dozens of Fifth Estate docs over the last few days this is the ONLY one were I found the interviewer to be utterly unprofessional, irrelevant and hard to listen to.

  12. Here's a great way to combat terrorism in our country.. Open up the boarders and allow them to walk in.. We'll check their credibility later.. If they have money or fake documentation, they can stay.. We believe everything people tell us.. So tell us a nice story, & we'll throw our people under the bus to accommodate you. You may even qualify for a few million dollars if you've ever fought for ISIS.. Ridiculous..

  13. interviewer is clueless lmao… what an idiot.. the agent cant call someone a terrorist even after being undercover????
    "but isnt that for the law to decide? you as an agent dont get to put someone under trial based on your investigation.. you have to hand it off to the courts…"
    wow. actually thats exactly what he's doing isnt he??? his investigation is what the prosecution uses against the defense no? am i missing something? oh my lawd jesus.

  14. A very bad interviewer. Sounds so unprofessional. Seems very demeaning to me. Too many sarcastic questions being asked.

  15. I love fifth estate but she’s my least favorite interviewer. She’s even worse on the Anthony George interview it looked like he was getting super annoyed I thought he was gonna snap on her.

  16. Lmao! Dudes a joke. So is the so called war on terror. Hey bud! Git a hankey farms auto pen for ya! Blahahaahahaaaa

  17. Hey I got this great idea to stop all this so called terrieism…..ready….ready….wait for it….STOP BOMBING OTHER COUNTRUES YOU FAIRY TURD DEGENERATES

  18. So the Canadians still believe were "terrorists" who whacked the trade center towers?Ask,bush,FBI,CIA and the filthy dancing Jews.

  19. Thank God that not all muslims believe they need to kill. It's a shame that they also will not speak out against those that have this desire to destroy and corrupt their religion and the world. No one needs to see a religion FORCING their beliefs on others. It's despicable. If more of them contributed to dismantling this cancer in their midst the world might work with them. If they can't assimilate into another country without polluting it then they need to be stopped from immigrating …PERIOD!

  20. Instead of playing with these scumbags , as soon as they reveal their intentions they should just be shot in the head and dumped in the ocean Dexter style.

  21. Did not finish watching. The journalist/interviewer in this episode is very annoying;. Her superior attitude only reveals her immaturity and arrogance as a journalist.

  22. I ve tried to find something positive about the "journalist" throughout the interview. She is so bad at so many levels. She makes it almost unwatchable.

  23. what the FBI and the Canadian law Enforcement did., the French intelligence did not do..the Paris attack could very well be avoided..this journalist is terrorist..look at her questions

  24. The problem is that the FBI is tainted by so many cases of entrapment that when there is a genuine case one has to question. I want the real terrorists caught not people that the FBI have revved up.

  25. But if you know anything about terrorism you would know we made half of them through senseless invasions, bombing and killings! Just like 911 no WMD's no terrorist! Just ppl who lost everything for no reason.. we killed there families friends! We blew all there property and info structure up! So in some ways we are the true terrorist! Now there moving on to shame and blame white adult males and conspiracy theorist & Conspiracist alike! You know the whole guns are bad thing when guns are the only tool to put a 70 old grandma on even footing with a 270 pound home invader! Don't tell me old ppl can't handle guns there are shotguns called the AA-12 which even a kid can shoot without recoil which is effective from 250 feet away! I'm a Canadian not a bad guy sorry I don't just care for my race only like they want! They want victims not hero's because victims are easy to control and manipulate..

  26. These guys make a terrorist — They entrap the individuals who probably wouldn't have had the ability to carry out any attacks on their own, and convince them to attempt a terror plan. It's called a 'sting' people! Shouldn't have any basis in law afaic.

  27. At the end of this interview, I just realized, how a man’s belief of good conscience and humanity, which seemed the utmost right things own its own, can be a serious problem of inhumanity to others at totally different if not opposite position. To protect world peace, national security, lives of innocent people, to use the only face value of these self-righteous slogans, can seriously over-power the situation, and may undermine the humanity of others. By no means, I devalue the work of this FBI agent, I believe he did the best of what he thought was his purpose and the most right thing to do. But again, who gave him the power, the only one person to make such arbitrary decision that who are criminal or not. But again, it is the terrorist we are talking about, not some daily bullshit, so I guess the urgency and the risk at stake are very high, this may be the factor.

  28. Where did they find this woman interviewer? She seems and acts more Pro- Muslim than a responsible journalist!! She is biased to the core. And that chair she was sitting in? Sitting WAY far back with her leg's propped up?! The Muslim community can have feelings that they're being spied upon but the agent can't have a gut feeling that an act of terror is about to occur? She's awful, biased and has WAY TOO much FEELINGS for the bad guys. Maybe the F.B.I. should be investigating her???????

  29. Still makes me laugh how people STILL! Believe 9/11 was a terrorist attack bush and his administration have a lot to answer for even crazier if when your own countries government turns against their own people and murders thousands …. yes you got it it’s another false flag attack!

  30. What an amazing man. He gives me hope that our cultures may get along after all. The interviewer on the other hand seems to be taking the stance that he's on a vendetta so as to prove himself to the FBI. He sounds genuine and believable to me. And of course the lawyers of the people he was infiltrating would say whatever they have to, so as set their clients free. But she uses them to prove her point.
    This is a hit piece on the part of the journalist, someone this biased should not have been given the job to interview him.

  31. Clever interviewer understood the entrapment the FBI used. No wonder Muslims hate us when they treat people like criminals and do everything in the vast govt power to entice him to be a criminal. Shameful

  32. Let's let Jeanine Pirro interview him! Bet SHE'D have a different attitude.
    My hat's off to this agent and I thank God for him. As Americans, we should and could only HOPE for more agents like him.

  33. Who is the dumb person trying to interview this man? Oh it's the CBC where quota's mean they have to employ identities over substance….oh OK

  34. people in the comments are bitching and moaning because the reporter wasn't lobbing soft balls at him and didn't hero worship him. These undercover operations are controversial, some people think its entrapment, in other words, they claim that these guys wouldn't have planned anything if it wasn't for this undercover agent. personally i have no sympathy for these terrorist scumbags, but it is what it is. I guess credible interviewers have to play the devils advocate sometimes. If this was on any american news show they would've licked his balls for the entire interview.

  35. I am in the United States and I can confidently say that she’s a terrible reporter. You can tell by her questions and tone that she was on the side of the villains. She should be neutral and professional regardless of what and how she feels.

  36. The persona that this episode brings forward is of course existing. The person being interviewed is just a pawn. NEVER EVER will an undercover agent-informant-intelligent officer do such an interview in person, make-up or not. (Btw this is real lousy make-up and simplistic dress coded.) If this man should really be an undercover, he would be liquidated very swiftly. (high quality photo-video scanning programs will straight reveal the lad behind this poor cover).

    This is a decent topic and interview, thus that lad isn't the real undercover guy.

  37. I decided not to buy a Mini Solar Cell when they said they would give proceeds to the military. 80% of my taxes go to military spending. I would NEVER support a product or company that is going to subsidize what I already pay for. NEVER.

  38. Just a thought, if America didn’t keep feeling the need to “liberate” Middle Eastern countries, maybe Muslims wouldn’t have the hump???

  39. Did a Google. The reporter is a three time Emmy award winner, an investigative reporter and film maker… Just to put things in perspective. This is a very serious topic and she approaches the subject with the correct approach in my view.

  40. hold on , time out. since when do FBI agent go undercover around the world? Isn't that the job of another 3 letter agency? CIA …. i"m not american or canadian that why i'm asking

  41. All of these comments are 100% ignorance…
    The interviewer is playing devils advocate, that is why she seems “bias” or “rude”

    The undercover agent even states she’s playing devils advocate…

  42. The Inside Man is a brave man .. thank you for keeping us safe.. sending love from Ottawa Ontario ..
    the reporter of fifth Estate… sorry .. i did not like your ignorance and rudeness towards this honorable man.

  43. Bullshit another attempt to prolong the so called war on terror. Imprison every us government official and terrorism will cease

  44. This turns into a total hit piece and defends the terrorists. Why were there on the bridge if they were not going to blow it up ?

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