New York a potential terror target on Christmas Day: Report

Terror attacks on New York city may have been planned on Christmas Day 2009, according to an FBI report on the failed bombing aboard a plane bound for Detroit on that day.

Last Updated: Jul 17, 2010, 00:22 AM IST

New York: Terror attacks on New York city
may have been planned on Christmas Day 2009, according to an
FBI report on the failed bombing aboard a plane bound for
Detroit on that day.

Somalian national Umar F. Abdulmutallab, 23, allegedly
tried to detonate his explosives-laden underwear over Detroit
aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on December 25, 2009.

Abdulmutallab said he was acting on al Qaeda`s
instructions, according to government.

"The final target of the attack was not known, but
extremist members had allegedly discussed restaurants and
night clubs located in New York City," the FBI`s assistant
legal attache in London wrote three weeks before Christmas,
according to the New York Post.

"The extremists allegedly discussed conducting the
attack on Dec. 25, to coincide with the Christmas holiday,? it
added.

The report did not identify the individuals or group
that was hatching the plan and it is not clear what happened
to this gathered intelligence.

There are, however, details as to what was being
planned---the extremists wanted to hide components for an
improvised explosive device in a shipment of khat, a plant
often chewed like tobacco, from Nairobi heading to London.

From there, "Caucasian British Muslim ...would
[allegedly] facilitate the transfer of the components to a
flight bound for NYC," according to the report, noting that
the group did not intend to detonate an explosive device on an
aircraft.

In New York, the group was allegedly supposed to
liaison with a Somali man only referred to as "Mohammed."

The veracity of the intelligence, at this point, is
not clear, and an FBI spokesperson, Bill Carter, said he is
"not aware of anything" to suggest the information contained
in the report was eventually deemed credible, according to The
Post.

"Most of it turns out to be just chatter, or there may
have been something to it but it didn`t happen," Carter said.

Carter also ruled out drawing a connection between the
failed Detroit bombing attempted Abdulmutallab and this
report, which came out three weeks before Christmas.

"There might be a coincidence," Carter said of the
Christmas Day timing noting that the December 4 report was
"raw intelligence, unsubstantiated, uncorroborated
information." "But I`m not getting any impression that you can
draw any conclusions from it."

Two law enforcement officials, according to NYP, noted
that the FBI comes across 83,000 such reports each year with
"hundreds a month" relating to New York City alone.

But others in the counterterrorism field are not sure
that the plots have nothing to do with each other.

One official speaking on the condition of anonymity
suggested that extremists may have planned to attack NYC on
Christmas Day but the plan didn’t work and that’s why a switch
was made to Detroit bomb plot.

"People don`t just drop it and leave, especially not
these organisations," the official said of al Qaeda and its
affiliates. "They go look for another way to do it."

PTI