More on the latest New York jihad plot from the New York Times (thanks to JE), which departs ever so slightly from its New Duranty Times policies by actually mentioning (albeit many paragraphs into the story, and after identifying the plotters repeatedly only as “men”) “Islamic extremists” and “jihadists” in this story about a plot by…Islamic jihadists.
Authorities overseas have arrested one man and have taken two others into custody on suspicion of planning suicide bombings in train tunnels beneath the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey, officials said yesterday.
Five other men are being sought in connection with the plan, which law enforcement authorities said presented a genuine threat even though it was in its earliest stages and no attack was imminent….
“The planning or the plotting for this attack had matured to the point where it appeared the individuals were about to move forward,” Mr. Mershon said.
“They were about to go to a phase where they would attempt to surveil targets, establish a regimen of attack and acquire the resources necessary to effectuate the attacks, and at that point I think it’s entirely appropriate to take it down.”
Federal and local law enforcement authorities identified the main subject of the investigation as Assem Hammoud, 31, a Lebanese man who was arrested on April 27 in Beirut and was still being held there. The locations of the other two men in custody were not revealed. The eight “principal players” planning the attack, the authorities said, had secured no financing, had gathered no explosives and had not visited New York “” or even the United States “” to conduct surveillance. At least one of the planners has been in Canada, the authorities said.
Officials said Mr. Hammoud would likely be tried in Lebanon and that no charges were pending against him in the United States.
Monitoring of Internet chat rooms used by Islamic extremists led to the arrest of Mr. Hammoud, according to Lebanese authorities. At least one American official said the members of the group had never even met one another….
Mr. Mershon said an attack was to have been carried out in October or November; Lebanese authorities confirmed that timing. Mr. Mershon said Mr. Hammoud told Lebanese interrogators that he had pledged “allegiance to Osama bin Laden and he proclaims himself to be a member of Al Qaeda.” But it was not clear the suspect had ever interacted with Mr. bin Laden or his top deputies.
In a statement, the Lebanese Internal Security Directorate said that under questioning Mr. Hammoud had said he was a member of an extremist organization and had been planning a major bombing in the United States….
Officials in Lebanon said Mr. Hammoud is from a religious family, lives with his mother and teaches at a private university….
The first official said, “There was discussion about where to do it, how to do it, what it would take, what effect it would have in different gradations, that a key player was getting ready to depart to a country where we know was an Al Qaeda presence.” He noted, however, that Mr. Hammoud was not known to be “a major Al Qaeda player.”…
The Lebanese Internal Security Directorate said Mr. Hammoud, going by the nom de guerre Ameer Andalusi, was initially noticed on an Islamist Web site used to recruit jihadis.
The Lebanese authorities located him based on the Internet Protocol address imbedded in his postings, which showed him to be in Beirut, the statement said. The authorities said Mr. Hammoud had sent out maps and plans for an operation to other members of his group over the Internet and said he had been planning to travel to Pakistan for a four-month training mission.