A failed plot to set off bombs in the New York subway system last year was part of larger al Qaeda conspiracy that planned a similar attack in England, U.S. prosecutors said Wednesday.
In a terrorism indictment unsealed Wednesday, prosecutors added several al Qaeda figures to the case, including Adnan Shukrijumah, whose name is on the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists.
Shukrijumah, an al Qaeda leader in charge of plotting attacks worldwide, was directly involved in recruiting and plotting the New York attack, prosecutors said. Attorney General Eric Holder has called that plot one of the most dangerous since Sept. 11, 2001.
Two of the men indicted Wednesday, Abid Naseer and Tariq Ur Rehman, were linked to a previously undisclosed companion plot in England.
“These charges underscore the global nature of the terrorist threat we face,” David Kris, the Justice Department’s top national security prosecutor said.
After 9/11, Shukrijumah, 34, was seen as one of al Qaeda’s best chances to attack inside the United States or Europe, captured terrorist Abu Zubaydah told U.S. authorities. Shukrijumah studied at a community college in Florida, but when the FBI showed up to arrest him as a material witness to a terrorism case in 2003, he already had left the country.
In 2004, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft called Shukrijumah a “clear and present danger” to the United States. The U.S. government is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.
Three U.S. citizens were arrested in September 2009 before, prosecutors said, they could carry out a trio of suicide bombings in Manhattan. Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay have pleaded guilty and admitted planning to detonate homemade bombs on the subway during rush hour.
A third man, Adis Medunjanin, awaits trial. Prosecutors added new terrorism charges against him Wednesday.
Intelligence officials began unraveling the subway plot last year, when U.S. intelligence intercepted an e-mail from an account that al Qaeda had used in a recent terrorist plot, officials said. The e-mail discussed bomb-making techniques and was sent to an address in Denver, setting off alarms within the CIA and FBI from Islamabad to the U.S.
Najibullah Zazi and two friends were arrested in September 2009 before, prosecutors said, they could carry out a trio of suicide bombings in Manhattan. Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay have pleaded guilty and admitted planning to detonate homemade bombs on the subway during rush hour. A third man, Adis Medunjanin, awaits trial.
A fourth suspect, a midlevel al Qaeda operative known as Ahmed, traded the e-mails with Zazi, who was frantically trying to perfect his bomb making recipe, officials said. The U.S. wants to bring the Pakistani man to the U.S. for trial on charges that are not yet public.
Pakistani officials also have arrested a fifth person, known as Afridi, who worked with Ahmed, officials said….