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Terrorism suspect was on 'Canadian Idol'

A man who appeared on "Canadian Idol" is the third person arrested as part of an alleged plot against targets in Canada and abroad, police say.
/ Source: staff and news service reports

A man who appeared on Canada's version of "American Idol" was the third person arrested as part of an alleged plot against targets in Canada and abroad, police said Thursday.

The two other suspects made a brief appearance in court on Thursday on charges they had plans to make bombs and had plans to use them.

Hiva Alizadeh, 30, and Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, appeared in court after their arrests on Wednesday in Ottawa. They are to appear again, by video, next Wednesday. Dr. Khurram Syed Sher was taken into custody in London, Ontario, on Thursday. All three are Canadian.

Sher, 28, appeared in an audition on the reality show "Canadian Idol" in 2008 in which he sings a comical version of Avril Lavigne's "Complicated," complete with dance moves that include a moonwalk. He told the judges he's from Pakistan and likes hockey, music and acting. The judges weren't impressed by either his singing or his dancing.

"Have you ever thought of being a comedian?" one asks in a video posted on YouTube.

Police allege the men had plans and schematics to make improvised explosive devices. Police seized 50 electronic circuit boards which they say could be used as remote-control triggers for bombs. They said one of the men was trained overseas to make explosive booby traps, but did not specify which one.

Police say they moved in on the men to prevent them from sending money to terror groups in Afghanistan.

"The arrests have prevented the gathering of bombs and the execution of one or many terrorist attacks," RCMP Chief Supt. Serge Therriault said.

Therriault said details on the targets would be released in court.

Police allege the suspects conspired with three other individuals to "knowingly facilitate terrorist activities" in Canada and abroad. Police say the plot ranged from Canada to Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai and Pakistan, but did not elaborate.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the arrests should remind Canadians that they are not immune to terrorism.

"The networks that threaten us are worldwide. They exist not only in remote countries but they have — through globalization and through the Internet — they have links through our country and all through the world," Harper said.

Sher is a doctor in Ontario and reportedly started a new job on Aug. 3 at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital.

"I'm really devastated," Dr. Syed Wasty, the chief of pathology and Sher's supervisor, said of the arrest. "I cannot say any more."

Sher spent time in Pakistan in 2006 as part of a relief effort after an earthquake. In 2007, he wrote the Canadian government protesting the treatment of three Muslims at Kingston prison.

Police, who made the arrests after a yearlong investigation, said the three suspects had been working together since February 2008.

Ahmed is an X-ray technician in Ottawa. Alizadeh studied English as an additional language and electrical engineering technology at Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Ahmed's lawyer, Ian Carter, said the charges are serious and his client, a husband and father, could be put away "for a long time."

"He is in shock. That's all I can say," Carter said.

The arrests come four years after the arrest of the so-called Toronto 18, suspects in a homegrown terror plot that involved the attempted setting off of truck bombs in front of Canada's main stock exchange and two government buildings. The ringleaders and others have been convicted. staff contributed to this report from The Associated Press.