Amid all the hand-wringing over how would-be underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab somehow slipped through security gaps on Christmas Day, it’s easy to forget that anti-terrorism officials did yeoman’s work last fall by thwarting Najibullah Zazi’s plot to detonate bombs in New York City’s subway system. Zazi, an airport-shuttle driver living in Colorado, pleaded guilty to terrorism charges in February and has been cooperating with authorities. That collaboration may be paying dividends, as law enforcement authorities say a fourth suspect in the scheme has been snared in Pakistan. The New York Daily News has alarming new details about the nature of the plot:
Zazi and his two Queens friends allegedly planned to strap explosives to their bodies and split up, heading for the Grand Central and Times Square stations – the two busiest subway stations in New York City.
They would board trains on the 1, 2, 3 and 6 lines at rush hour and planned to position themselves in the middle of the packed trains to ensure the maximum carnage when they blew themselves up, sources said.
During Zazi’s brief visit to Queens from his home in Denver last September, he rode the subway multiple times to the Grand Central and Wall St. stations, scouting where to best spread death and mayhem, the sources said.
Zazi is scheduled to be sentenced in June, and could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. In the wake of last month’s suicide bombing attacks on Moscow subways, New York’s transit system has ramped up security.