TEHRAN, April 23 (UPI) -- The ideology of al-Qaida is far removed from the principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
A tip from a cleric in Toronto prompted Canadian authorities to arrest two men for allegedly working with al-Qaida to target passenger trains. Canadian authorities said the suspects received "direction and guidance" from al-Qaida operatives in Iran.
The plot was said to be the first direct threat to Canada from al-Qaida.
Two men -- Chiheb Esseghaie and Raed Jaser -- were allegedly targeting a rail line from Toronto to New York.
Iranian Foreign Minister spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the Shiite government in Iran has nothing in common with the ideologies of al-Qaida, a Sunni organization.
"Al-Qaida's mindset is by no means congruent with (the ideology of) the Islamic republic of Iran," he was quoted by state-funded broadcaster as saying Tuesday.
David Cohen, U.S. undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said last year the government has exposed al-Qaida's foundation in Iran after sanctioning two alleged al-Qaida operators in Iran.
"We will continue targeting this crucial source of al-Qaida's funding and support, as well as highlight Iran's ongoing complicity in this network's operation," he said in a statement.
The U.S. State Department said it identified Muhsin al-Fadli and his deputy, Adel Radi Saqr al-Wahabi al-Harbi, as Iranian-based facilitators and financiers for the terrorist cabal.
Mehmanparast said the allegations from Canada were a reflection of growing "Iranophobia."