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Father of man arrested in Kingston, Ont., probe says he’s told it’s ‘about terrorists’

The father of Hussam Eddin Alzahabi says his 20-year-old son has been arrested in what he believes is a terror-related investigation in Kingston, Ont.

“They tell me they search about him about terrorists. I know my son, he didn’t think about that. He like Canada. He like the safety in Canada. How could he think about that?” Amin Alzahabi, who has been in Canada since 2017, told CBC News in an interview from his home Friday morning.

“Not good, not good.”

On Thursday, RCMP arrested two people following raids on two homes in the eastern Ontario city. Sources tell CBC News it’s related to a national security investigation.

CBC News has learned the arrests included a minor and involved both Kingston police and the help of the FBI in the U.S. Details about the other person arrested weren’t immediately available.

The RCMP said it will hold a news conference today at 1 p.m. ET to update the public on the investigation.

On Thursday, officers could be seen carrying bags of evidence out of the homes.

By Friday morning, the police presence was contained to just one residence.

“It’s fake news about my son,” Alzahabi said. “I trust my son. I know he cannot do anything against any human, humanity.”

“They inspected everything from my house. They didn’t find anything,” Alzahabi said.

“I think this is not good,” he added.

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The family, originally from Syria, has been living in Canada since July 2017, Alzahabi said, following time spent in Kuwait from 2008 to 2017.

According to a bulletin posted to the website of a Kingston-area Catholic church detailing the journey of the Alzahabi family, an ecumenical group of churches helped bring them to Canada through the private sponsorship refugee program in 2016-17.

The church group established a series of committees, including a hospitality and orientation committee composed of parishioners, and raised more than $30,000 to help support the family’s transition to life in Canada.

Amin Alzahabi said his son is completing high school upgrades at Loyalist Collegiate & Vocational Institute.

In a statement, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said police took action Thursday “based on credible information, to ensure public safety.”

The minister said the operation has not changed the country’s threat level. It remains at “medium,” where it has hovered since late 2014.

However, the threat was considered serious enough to involve months of investigation, thousands of hours of police work and the use of a Pilatus PC-12 RCMP surveillance plane that had been circling over Kingston in recent weeks for hours on end, creating a great deal of interest from residents due to the noise.

Spokespeople for both the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice referred all questions to the RCMP.

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