Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/8/2010 (3341 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Before police accused him of being a homegrown terrorist, Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh was known only as a quiet student studying electronics at Red River College and working at a traditional Muslim meat shop on Maryland Street.
Neighbours at a St. Vital apartment building say he married a Winnipeg aboriginal woman who converted to Islam and wore the full niqab that showed only her eyes.
Alizadeh, 30, was one of three suspects charged Thursday in what national officials say was a widespread terrorism plot stretching as far as Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai and Pakistan.
His arrest came after Mounties seized 50 electronic circuit boards during raids at an Ottawa home on Wednesday, which they say could be used as remote-control triggers for bombs.
"I'm pretty shocked... I can't believe it," Ellie Pfeifer, the assistant building manager at 576 St. Anne's Road, said Thursday.
She said Alizadeh lived in a suite on the third floor with a woman, Julie Harper, whom he described as his wife, her two-year-old son and their newborn daughter, between September 2007 and October 2008.
Pfeifer said Harper was aboriginal but she appeared to have converted to Islam and had female friends who also converted to Islam.
When they first moved in, Harper was always dressed in the traditional Muslim long dress and headpiece that showed her full face, Pfeifer said, until she returned from a visit to Toronto dressed in the niqab, a head piece that only leaves the eyes exposed.
"She didn't hesitate to talk about how she was dressed and how it was important to her religion," Pfeifer said. "She said she had to wear what she was wearing because men would stare at her body and all they had to see were her eyes."
A neighbour who lived across the hall said Alizadeh and his family were always courteous and helpful. "He offered to take out my garbage and to help carry up my groceries many times," the neighbour said. "They always said hello."
Alizadeh appeared in an Ottawa court Thursday charged with terror conspiracy, having terrorist explosive devices and terrorist fundraising. Police allege the group members were making circuit boards designed to remotely detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Red River College confirmed Alizadeh had twice studied at the school, taking English as an additional language in 2003-2004, and electrical engineering technology in 2008-2009.
"I can confirm we did have a student by that name" enrolled in those courses, RRC spokesman Colin Fast said. "He didn't actually graduate in either case."
Alizadeh voluntarily withdrew from the electrical engineering technology course about a year into a 21/2-year program, Fast added. Alizadeh was "respectful, hard-working and on time for class," one teacher said through Fast.
Fast declined further comment on any other details of Alizadeh's time at Red River.
Alizadeh was a "super employee" at Halal MeatCentre and Specialty Foods on Maryland Street for more than two years before leaving with his uncle for Ottawa last summer, store owner Yusuf Abdulrehman told the Free Press.
"When I saw the news... I was really shocked. It's not the same Hiva I knew," he said. "He was very honest, very sincere and very straightforward. He was always helping out."
RCMP couldn't confirm if Alizadeh was investigated while he lived in Winnipeg.
Sean May, Alizadeh's lawyer, said his client "seems to be taking the matter seriously and (is) obviously very concerned about it. They are the most serious charges you can face except for a murder charge."
— with files from The Canadian Press
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.