New York jihad plot: “We just know that it was going to be a ve ry bad attack”

More on the New York/Colorado jihad plot. “Officials: NYC Plot Operational, Not Just Aspirational,” by Dina Temple-Raston for NPR, September 28 (thanks to James):

The man at the center of an alleged plot to blow up transportation targets in New York City is scheduled to appear before a Brooklyn judge for the first time Tuesday. Najibullah Zazi is accused of plotting to use weapons of mass destruction against U.S. targets in what law enforcement officials say was the most serious terrorist threat against the U.S. since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

While the FBI arrested Zazi just a little more than a week ago, U.S. intelligence officials had been tracking him for months. They had been listening to Zazi’s phone calls, tracking his e-mails and following his associates for months in a bid to uncover exactly what he was planning and who was helping him. The investigation blew up before they got answers to either of the questions.

Officials close to the case tell NPR that more arrests could happen as soon as this week.

“We still don’t know what we don’t know yet,” one senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the case said. “We just know that it was going to be a very bad attack. We don’t get terrorists in this country who go get al-Qaida training and come back to attack here. That’s what we were expecting was going to happen in a second wave of attacks after 9/11. So in that sense, Zazi isn’t just unusual — he’s scary.”…

Whatever his defense may be, Zazi has come to embody everything U.S. intelligence officials worry about in a suspected jihadist. He was in the U.S. legally, so he could move about the country freely. He was raised and attended school in the U.S., so he understands American culture and customs and could blend in. Most frightening of all, they say, Zazi wasn’t just an aspirational jihadist, he was also an operational one. Official say he didn’t just dream up a plot, he actually began to launch one — unlike other terrorism suspects the FBI has arrested since Sept. 11, 2001….

Read it all.

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