Friday, July 07, 2006

Terrorism III: New Bomb Plot Uncovered

A terrorist plot to set off explosives in commuter rail tunnels under the Hudson River between New York City and New Jersey in October or November has been disrupted in its planning stages and several suspects have been apprehended, law enforcement officials said Friday.

Mark J. Mershon, the agent in charge of the FBI's New York office, said that Lebanese officials had taken the plot's mastermind into custody in Beirut and said that he had confessed.

He was identified as Assem Hammoud, a 31-year-old Lebanese native with alleged ties to Al Qaeda.

Several other of the eight people whom Mershon described as the principal players in the plot have been taken into custody in other countries.

Said Mershon:

The plot had matured to the point where the individuals were about to go to a phase where they would attempt to surveil targets, establish a regimen of attacks and acquisition of the resources needed to effectuate the attacks.
The New York Daily News had reported earlier in the day that the terrorists planned to bomb the Holland Tunnel in hopes of causing a torrent of water to flood the Financial District in lower Manhattan.

While the plotters would seem to be less hairbrained than the wannabe jihadists arrested in Miami last month who allegedly planned to blow up Chicago's Sears Tower, the Daily News noted in an accompanying story that the Holland Tunnel plot wouldn't work:
Any plot to flood lower Manhattan by blowing up the Holland Tunnel is doomed to fail, experts say - because it would have to defy the laws of physics.

If the Hudson River surged into a ruptured tunnel, experts told the Daily News, the water would only rise to its own level - and might not even reach street level in the city.

"It might flood the Holland Tunnel, but that's all it's going to flood," said Allan McDuffie, an Army Corps of Engineers expert on New York flood patterns. "It's not going to get any higher than the level of the surrounding water."
Mershon, the FBI official, asserted that the Holland Tunnel was not a target and expressed anger that someone had leaked information about it to the Daily News.

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