The suspect, Raed Jaser, 35, was arrested in Toronto last month and accused of conspiring to kill passengers on a Via Rail train by derailing it between Toronto and New York, CBC News reported Thursday.
Imam Mohamed Ali said he often talked to Jaser after prayers. While he thought Jaser was a "good guy," Jaser seemed convinced non-Muslims "are out to get us so we have to, you know, defend ourselves."
Ali conjectured some of Jaser's anger came from difficulties he had in obtaining Canadian citizenship.
Jaser and his family arrived in Canada 20 years ago carrying French passports and claiming refugee status. A year later, authorities declared their documents fake and ordered them deported.
On appeal, all members of the family were allowed to stay except Jaser, who had been in the interim been convicted of fraud and uttering threats.
His deportation was delayed for 16 years and he was finally granted a pardon. Jaser was granted permanent residency in 2012, even as he was under surveillance in the alleged train plot.