August 6, 2004


Terror Detainee Is Seen as Leader in Plot by Al Qaeda (DOUGLAS JEHL and DAVID JOHNSTON, 8/06/04, NY Times)

A terrorist suspect now in custody in Britain directed the surveillance of financial institutions in New York, New Jersey and Washington during 2000 and 2001 and prepared the detailed reports about them that have prompted fears of an attack, senior government officials said on Thursday.

The suspect, known as Abu Issa al-Hindi, was described by the officials as by far the most important Qaeda figure detained as part of an American-led effort to unravel the tangle of clues uncovered with the discovery in Pakistan of computer files containing the surveillance reports.

Mr. Hindi was described by a senior government official as "a key Al Qaeda operative in Great Britain,'' and was said to have been under surveillance by British authorities even before the computer files were discovered last week. The information drawn from those files served as "a catalytic event'' that provided the basis for his arrest on Tuesday, after the Central Intelligence Agency relayed information to its British counterparts.

A senior American official described Mr. Hindi as having been "intimately involved'' in producing, perhaps as the author, the detailed reconnaissance reports that described security measures, engineering features and potential vulnerabilities at five buildings, which have been identified by the Bush administration as potential targets of an attack.

Intelligence and law enforcement officials said it was not certain whether Mr. Hindi himself had traveled to the United States to take part in the surveillance operations. One law enforcement official said there was evidence that Mr. Hindi did conduct on-the-ground surveillance at the New York Stock Exchange and the Citigroup building in Manhattan and at the Prudential site in Newark.

At minimum, a senior counterterrorism official said, investigators have established that Mr. Hindi was a central planning chief for the reconnaissance effort, overseeing the surveillance studies in the United States and relaying reports and other information to Qaeda counterparts in Pakistan.

Isn't this as big as foiling 9-11?

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 6, 2004 9:02 AM

And foiling 9-11 would have faded into history by now.
This happens everyday in normal life as well. The person who works and prevents problems never gets the same credit as the person who rides to the rescue to fix the problem once it happens.
Perhaps this is why Kerry is promising to respond only once an attack occurs...more credit and adulation that way.

Posted by: Dave P at August 6, 2004 9:38 AM

Howard Dean: "D'oh!!"

Posted by: Robert Duquette at August 6, 2004 9:59 AM

I really don't understand Al Qaeda's strategic thinking. They seem to have planned 9/11 with no immediate follow-up attacks. (Maybe Lee Harris was right about their "fantasy ideology," in which they thought one attack was enough.) And now they're futzing around with more very carefully planned attacks, but of course our defenses are up now, and the longer they plan, the more chances we have to catch them before they do anything. Why aren't they doing simpler attacks, involving (say) stolen vehicles, pump shotguns, and any large crowd? I don't get it.

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 6, 2004 4:30 PM


They don't have a strategy, just a fantasy:

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2004 4:55 PM

Yes, that was the article I was referencing. But now that their big strike (9/11) didn't produce the intended results, do they think the next similar attack will? Or what?

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 6, 2004 6:56 PM

There are no intended results--they do this because it is who they are. We're secondary.

Posted by: oj at August 6, 2004 7:01 PM