Three suspects are being held by authorities in connection with the terrorist plot to attack New York area subways, tunnels, and PATH. Five others are still at large.
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.Law enforcement had tried to keep the news of this story under wraps, but someone leaked the story to the NY Daily News. They had tried to do so until the remaining five individuals were in custody.
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.
"There was a lot of discussion, there was planning being done; but there was no indication that there was any movement toward these facilities," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday. "There is no indication that materials were secured or that specific reconnaissance was done."
These terrorists were trying to carry out an attack around the 5-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. And their ringleader had pledged his allegience to al Qaeda.
The major unanswered question is who leaked this information, why was it leaked now, and what this does for national security down the road. Some on the Left, want to believe that the leak was done to coincide with the 1-year anniversary of the London bombings. Another possibility is that the leaker was a leftist who wanted to undermine national security by exposing yet another secret program - monitoring of chat rooms where jihadis communicate.
What I continue to see is that there are partisan hacks in sensitive positions that are leaking classified information that affects national security and they're endangering US national security by their actions. Whether it's the NSA intercepts program, the SWIFT program, or details about an open and ongoing investigation into a terror plot to blow up NY area tunnels, all are based on leaks of sensitive and classified information.
The WaPo reports:
"This is a plot that would have involved martyrdom, explosives and certain of the tubes that connect New Jersey with Lower Manhattan," Mershon said. He called the threat "the real deal."The Daily News, which broke this story, now reports that the terror plot was one of the reasons for increased security outside PATH stations, although I found the increases to be spotty (perhaps on purpose?)
Hammoud was arrested before leaving for four months of training in Pakistan, and Lebanese investigators discovered details of a terrorist "project" on his computer that included a map "with a lot of details about New York," Lebanon's acting Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat said in a telephone interview.
But authorities said there was no evidence that the plotters had taken any actions, such as buying explosives or sending money. They cast doubt on the feasibility of initial reports, which first appeared in the New York Daily News, that terrorists sought to flood Lower Manhattan and the Financial District by bombing tunnels.
There were conflicting assessments among U.S. counterterrorism officials about the significance of the alleged plot.
Two U.S. counterterrorism officials, speaking on the condition that their names and agencies not be identified because the FBI is the government's lead agency, discounted the ability of the conspirators to carry out an attack.
The Daily News also appears to be walking back slightly from its focus on the Holland Tunnel:
The plot, as The News first reported, was to blow up underwater tunnels, break the walls, flood the tunnel, and possibly drown the subway system and lower Manhattan.Local politicians are using this terror plot to bolster their claims that homeland security funding needs to go to NYC and neighboring areas.
Mershon said the focus of the group was "specifically only the PATH tunnels" and not the Holland Tunnel, as The News reported. But several high-level sources said the plotters had eyed other tunnels in lower Manhattan, including the Holland Tunnel, before settling on the PATH trains.
AJ Strata notes that the FBI may have already identified the leaker of this story to the Daily News.
Doug Ross finds that the NYT coverage is quite curious. A major terror plot designed to attack targets in the Times' backyard receives limited coverage a day after the story breaks, whereas other media outlets are running the story above the fold and front and center on their websites. What gives?
Others blogging: Sister Toldjah, Ed Morrissey, Confederate Yankee.
Others blogging the tunnel terror plot bust: Sweetness & Light, Secular Blasphemy, and Gothamist
Posted to the following open trackbacks: Assorted Babble, Wizbang, Basil's Blog, The Crazy Rants of Samantha Burns, Point Five, Stuck on Stupid, The Bullwinkle Blog.
Technorati: hammoud, tunnel terror plot, nyc, PATH, bloomberg, subways, holland tunnel.
Labels: Al Qaeda, FBI, Holland Tunnel, Joe Biden, Lebanon, NSA, Pakistan, PATH, subways and tunnels, terrorism