British intelligence cracks trans-Atlantic terrorist network


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Apr 5, 2009
British intelligence cracks trans-Atlantic terrorist network

British intelligence officials tipped off their American counterparts to the most serious terrorist plot foiled in the US since September 11 after uncovering a trans-Atlantic network of terrorists.

By Duncan Gardham, Security Correspondent
Published: 6:36PM GMT 09 Nov 2009

Najibullah Zazi, center, is escorted off an NYPD helicopter by U.S Marshals after being extradited from Denver Photo: AP

The arrest of an alleged al-Qaeda gang in Manchester and Liverpool said to be planning an Easter bombing campaign earlier this year led investigators to Najibullah Zazi in New York, sources say.

It is claimed he was part of a gang set to attack the New York subway using truck bombs or suicide bombers with the same explosives used on July 21 in London.

They had bought the ingredients for his bombs and he had allegedly filmed Grand Central Station on his mobile phone.

Security sources have told the Daily Telegraph that Zazi and the men arrested in Manchester were part of a complex network directed from Pakistan.They are reticent on how Zazi was identified but admit it was through an “intercepted communication.”

The network was uncovered following the arrest of a US national, Bryant Neal Vinas, in Pakistan last November.

Vinas, 26, also known as “Bashir al-Ameriki,” claims he met Rashid Rauf, the British al-Qaeda commander behind the trans-Atlantic bomb plot.

Vinas had been in Pakistan since 2007 where he admits he received training from al-Qaeda and agreed to become a suicide bomber, plotting to blow up a train on the Long Island Rail Road inside Pennsylvania Station.

After Vinas was detained, a number of arrests followed in Belgium in December and in April this year Greater Manchester Police arrested 12 Pakistani students after GCHQ intercepted emails about girls and cars that were allegedly code for a planned attack.

The arrests had to be brought forward after Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, was photographed going into Downing Street with details of the planned operation under his arm.
No bomb-making equipment was found and the men were released without charge but the Government is trying to deport six of the students, all of whom come from Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, which borders Afghanistan.

The government says they were involved in “terrorist operational activity in the UK, most likely attack planning.”

MI5 says the network was “co-ordinated” by a 23-year-old student who can only be referred to as “XC”, who sent and received the emails, and that it was “directed by al-Qaeda based overseas.”

Zazi, 24, who was born in Paktia, Afghanistan, and had lived in the US since the age of seven, flew with others to Peshawar in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province in August last year where he used three email accounts to gather information on bomb-making.

According to a US indictment, images of handwritten notes explained how to make TATP, the same explosive used in the July 21 attacks.

Zazi returned to his home in Queen’s, New York in January this year and then moved to Aurora in Colorado where he was worked as an airport shuttle bus driver.

It is alleged that he and others bought large quantities of hydrogen peroxide and acetone products, key ingredients for homemade bombs, from beauty supplies shops across Denver.

On September 6 and 7 he rented a hotel suite in Aurora where tests by the FBI later found acetone residue above the stove.

At the same time he was said to be communicating with someone with increasing urgency to try and find the proportion of flour he needed.

He drove to New York on September 10 this year but was tipped off that New York police detectives were making inquiries about him and quickly flew home.
The FBI conducted a series of raids four days later.

US Attorney General Eric Holder described the alleged plot as “One of the most serious in the United States since September 11, 2001.”

In an interview during a visit to London last week, Janet Napolitano, the Secretary for Homelands Security, said: “We can now say those that share al-Qaeda’s beliefs are now within the US itself.”

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