Did they think a pre-election attack here wouldn’t result in the same outcome as it did in Spain, and so planned to disrupt the elections themselves? From the New York Times, :
WASHINGTON, Aug. 7 – A Pakistani man whose arrest provided information about the reconnaissance of financial institutions in New York, Newark and Washington was also communicating with Qaeda operatives who the authorities say are plotting to carry out an attack intended to disrupt the fall elections, a senior intelligence official said Saturday.
Senior intelligence and counterterrorism officials said it was not clear whether the people behind the surveillance of the financial institutions and the people involved in the election threat were part of the same group, or belonged to overlapping or separate ones.
The arrest last month of the Pakistani, Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, had already prompted a search in the United States, Britain and other countries to locate the people behind the surveillance, which took place three or four years ago. Now the authorities say Mr. Khan’s arrest is also helping them unravel a threat to carry out an attack this year inside the United States.
It is not clear whether Mr. Khan represents the second channel of intelligence that officials have alluded to in recent days that, they say, convinced them that the reconnaissance of financial institutions was related to current threats.
But he is emerging as a central figure in an expanding web of connections that, the authorities say, indicates that they may have penetrated an operational Qaeda group whose intentions were previously unknown.