The three men, whose names were not released, had been under surveillance for more than a year. Officials believe they were planning attacks with portable but powerful bombs like the ones at the heart of last year's thwarted suicide attack in the New York City subway.So why was Norway chosen? Well, Norway has a contingent of 500 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO ISAF.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has called that one of the most serious terrorist plots since 9/11. On Wednesday, prosecutors revealed the existence of a related plot in Manchester, England.
Officials believe the Norway plan was instigated by Salah al-Somali, al-Qaida's former chief of external operations, who was in charge of plotting attacks worldwide until he was killed in a CIA drone airstrike last year.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case. The Norwegian Police Security Service said only that the three were arrested on suspicion of "preparing terror activities."
Al-Somali has been identified in U.S. court documents as one of the masterminds of the New York subway plot. Two men have pleaded guilty in that case, admitting they planned to detonate explosives during rush hour. A third man awaits trial.
Officials said it was not clear the men had selected a target for the attacks but they were attempting to make peroxide bombs, the powerful homemade explosives that prosecutors say were attempted in both New York and England.
U.S. and Norwegian counterterrorism officials worked closely together to unravel the Norwegian plot, officials said. Janne Kristiansen, the head of the Police Security Service, traveled to the U.S. this spring to discuss some of the closely held intelligence that been gathered in the case.
Much more likely is that it is yet another outgrowth of the cartoon jihad sparked by the publication of a series of Mohammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten, which caused riots in many Islamic countries and embassies of several nations were torched, including the Norwegian embassy in Syria, primarily because the Scandanavian countries were seen as being of a similar mind about the publication and freedom of speech that it represents.
So how did Shukrijumah get implicated? Well, it looks like Zazi cooperated with federal authorities to the extent that they're even considering putting him and fellow terrorist Zarein Ahmedzay into witness protection.
Federal Judge Raymond Dearie agreed yesterday to unseal the cooperation agreements. Medunjanin's co-defendants - Zazi, who was the New York plot's pointman, and Ahmedzay - both apparently may get a sweet deal.
Zazi and Ahmedzay could have their life sentences reduced and enter the witness protection program if the Justice Department agrees with prosecutors' recommendations. Zazi could also receive the "S" visa.