The Blog

The 7/7 Connection

2:43 PM, Sep 24, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

It is looking more and more like Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan immigrant recently arrested on terrorism-related charges, had intended to unleash a July 7-style attack in New York. Today, the Justice Department announced that Zazi has been indicted on charges alleging he was:

"committed to detonating an explosive device up until the date of his arrest, as exemplified by among other things, traveling overseas to receive bomb-making instructions, conducting extensive research on the internet regarding components of explosive devices, purchasing -- on multiple occasions -- the components necessary to produce TATP [Triacetone Triperoxide] and other explosive devices, and traveling to New York City on September 10, 2009 in furtherance of the criminal plan."

Here are just four of the similarities to al Qaeda's July 7, 2005, bombings in London, as well as other al Qaeda plots:

1. Zazi traveled to Northern Pakistan to receive al Qaeda's training on how to make improvised explosive devices. The 7/7 plotters did as well, and so did at least some of the men responsible for follow-on plot that failed on 7/21/2005.

2. Zazi allegedly cased New York's transit systems, and commuter trains were one of his possible targets. The 7/7 plotters, of course, targeted London's transit system - as did the March 11, 2004 Madrid bombers.

3. Zazi allegedly researched ways to produce TATP (Triacetone Triperoxide). A similar, if not the same, explosive was used by the 7/7 bombers and the 7/21 al Qaeda plotters. Richard Reid also reportedly used a TATP-style explosive in his attempt to bring down an airliner using a shoe bomb.

4. Based on news reports, Zazi had accumulated a significant number of backpacks to allegedly carry the explosives. Again, this was the modus operandi of both the 7/7 bombers, the 7/21 plotters, as well as the 3/11 bombers.

Reading through press accounts and the Justice Department's release, I can't help but remember that at least some of the 7/7 bombers and 7/21 plotters wore New York-related t-shirts and hats during their missions and reconnaissance trips. London's extensive surveillance system caught them on tape wearing the New York gear. Was it just a way for them to commemorate al Qaeda's most devastating day of terror (9/11)? Or was it something more - a signal that they could do the same thing here?

And, have authorities figured out who all of Zazi's alleged stateside co-conspirators are yet?