Muslim community leaders who were briefed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ahead of Monday's announcement of the arrest said they were told one of the suspects is Tunisian and the other from the United Arab Emirates.
But the United Arab Emirates embassy in Ottawa said in a statement Tuesday that neither of the two men were UAE nationals.
The London-based newspaper Al Arab reported Wednesday, citing unnamed sources in the Gulf, that Jaser is a Jordanian passport holder with full name Raed Jaser Ibrahim Amouri, who had visited the UAE several times and most recently in September 2011. The newspaper reported that the suspect also visited other Gulf countries including Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
It was not possible to independently confirm the report.
Esseghaier's LinkedIn profile lists him as having studied in Tunisia before moving to Canada, where he was pursuing a Ph.D. in nanotechnology at the National Institute of Scientific Research, a spokeswoman at the training university confirmed. His profile on a university department website — which has since been removed — says he was born in Tunis, Tunisia.
The investigation surrounding the planned attack was part of a cross-border operation involving Canadian law enforcement agencies, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Canadian police said the men never got close to carrying out the attack.
The warning first came from an imam in Toronto, who in turn was tipped off by suspicious behavior on the part of one of the suspect.
"I was involved in alerting police about the suspect. I made some calls on behalf of the imam over a year ago," Toronto lawyer Naseer Syed said. He would not say what, exactly made the imam suspicious.
"The Muslim community has been cooperating with authorities for a number of years and people do the right thing when there is reason to alert authorities," Syed said, adding that he was speaking for the imam, who wished to remain anonymous.