John Stewart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody were inspired by al-Qaida ideology but were self-radicalized, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner James Malizia said Tuesday. He called it a domestic threat without international connections.
Malizia told a news conference there was no evidence or indication to suggest a connection to the deadly Boston Marathon bombings in April, which used bombs made from pressure cookers.
RCMP Supt. Wayne Rideout said the public was never at risk, and the threat was detected early.
Nuttall and Korody were arrested Monday, the same day that thousands attended the Canada Day celebrations at the provincial legislature in the provincial capital of Victoria. Police said the pair targeted the celebrations, but the bombs were found outside the legislature before the crowds gathered.
"This self-radicalized behavior was intended to create maximum impact and harm to Canadian citizens at the B.C. legislature on a national holiday," Rideout said. "They took steps to educate themselves and produce explosive devices designed to cause injury and death."
The pair has been charged with conspiracy, facilitating a terrorist activity and making an explosive device.
"A day after thousands of patriotic Canadians gathered on these grounds to celebrate the founding of our nation, I'm incredibly relieved to know that there was never any risk to anyone," British Columbia Premier Christy Clark said Tuesday. "We're also told that the suspects have no ties to any groups inside or outside Canada. Again, an incredible relief that these two individuals appeared to be working alone."
Rideout stressed the pressure cooker devices were under police control and were inert.
Nuttall and Korody made a brief court appearance Tuesday and return July 9 for a bail hearing. Tom Morino, Nuttall's lawyer, said the two are a couple.
"They refer to each other as husband and wife," Morino told The Associated Press. "It may be a common-law relationship."
Morino said Nuttall is a convert to Islam, but he added that Islam and al-Qaida "don't go hand in hand."
Morino has represented Nuttall on past charges but wouldn't discuss them. A man with the same name has convictions for mischief and assault, according to court records.
Police said they received a tip from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that led to what Rideout called a five-month investigation. He said the pair discussed a wide variety of targets and techniques.
Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews credited information sharing among security and law enforcement agencies for the arrest. Canada's security intelligence service has long warned of homegrown and external terrorism threats.
In April, two men were arrested in Canada in connection with a plot to derail a Via passenger train running between New York City and Montreal.
U.S. officials have long worried about another Ahmed Ressam, the "millennium bomber" who was caught in 1999 trying to bring an explosives-filled car into the United States on a ferry from British Columbia. Ressam, an Algerian citizen, had planned to bomb the Los Angeles airport during the 2000 New Year celebration.
Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.