Saturday, July 08, 2006

Feds Foil NYC Transit Tunnel Plot

Plot to Attack N.Y. Foiled

By Spencer S. Hsu and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, July 8, 2006; Page A01
Transit Tunnels to N.J. Called Targets

A terrorist plot to attack transit tunnels under New York's Hudson River was broken up in its early planning stages, U.S. authorities said yesterday, with three suspects arrested overseas, including a Lebanese man the FBI said was an al-Qaeda follower.

FBI assistant director for New York Mark J. Mershon said investigators had disrupted the plot before the suspects could come to the United States and begin to gather intelligence and explosives for the attack. He said there was no threat now to the PATH commuter lines, which carry tens of thousands of people between New York and New Jersey each day.

The FBI uncovered the alleged plot last summer and intercepted e-mails and chat-room postings on Web sites used to recruit Islamic terrorists. U.S. authorities turned in April to Lebanese officials for help in tracking one of the suspects, Assem Hammoud. The 31-year-old man, who the FBI said was the group's leader, was arrested in Beirut on April 27 and has confessed, officials said.

In the article one official calls the plot more "aspirational than operational". On CNN they showed how the flooding the financial district part of the plot would have failed as the tunnels go beneath the bedrock beloe the river not to mention the fact that the financial district is above sea level whereas the tunnels are below it. It also stands to reason that the tunnels would have been designed to withstand a gas tanker truck igniting.

This plot really lacks the degree of sophistication normally associated with Al Quaeda. Al Quaeda has been found using spam emails that lead to porn sites where encrypted messages are embedded in a particular picture in order to communicate securely. The communication behind this plot was amaterish by comparison. It may be a sign that Al Quaeda has started sanctioning nutjobs in order to create a smokescreen for themselves.