Thursday, July 8, 2010

NYC Subway Terror Plot Had Global Reach

Via -

Federal prosecutors charged a senior al-Qaeda leader Wednesday with helping to mastermind last year's attempted bombing of New York City's subway and said the effort was part of a larger plot that included a failed terrorist attempt in the U.K.

Three suspected al-Qaeda members were arrested in Europe Thursday morning in what Norwegian and U.S. officials said was a bombing plot linked to the New York and U.K. plans.

In an indictment unveiled in federal court in Brooklyn Wednesday, prosecutors said 34-year-old Adnan el Shukrijumah, described as a leader of an al-Qaeda program dedicated to terrorist attacks in the U.S. and other Western countries, "recruited and directed" three U.S. citizens to carry out suicide bombings in Manhattan in September 2009.

The indictment also charged Abid Naseer and Tariq ur Rehman, who were previously arrested by authorities in the U.K. as part of a raid in relation to suspected terrorist activity there. Prosecutors said the two cases were "directly related." The charges underscored "the global nature of the terrorist threat we face," said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security.

On Wednesday, U.K. police again arrested Mr. Naseer, who is 24 years old and of Pakistani descent, in Middlesbrough, in the northeast of England, according to a police spokesman. Mr. Rehman isn't in custody and is believed to be in Pakistan. The last known lawyers for Messrs. Rehman and Naseer couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

A day later, three men were arrested on suspicion of "preparing terror activities," the Norwegian Police Security Service said. Two of the men were arrested in Norway and one in Germany, said Janne Kristiansen, the head of Police Security Service. She said one of the men was a 39-year-old Norwegian of Uighur origin, who had lived in Norway since 1999. The other suspects were a 37-year-old Iraqi and a 31-year-old citizen of Uzbekistan, both of whom have permanent residency permits in Norway. The three had been under surveillance for more than a year.

Officials told the Associated Press that the men were attempting to make portable but powerful peroxide bombs, but it wasn't clear whether they had selected a target for the attacks. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the case, said they believe the plan was organized by Salah al-Somali, al-Qaeda's former chief of external operations who was charge of plotting attacks world-wide but is believed to have been killed in a CIA drone airstrike last year.

U.S. prosecutors, meanwhile, said the New York and U.K. plots were directly linked by a man identified in court documents as "Ahmad," who was also charged on Wednesday, though he wasn't in custody and prosecutors said his identity was unknown. Prosecutors said Ahmad transported Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan native who worked as an airport shuttle driver in Colorado, and two others to Waziristan, Pakistan, so they could receive training. Mr. Shukrijumah recruited them at a camp there, prosecutors said.

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