Officials: Al Qaeda Operative Linked To NYC Plot

New York - U.S. officials have linked a senior al Qaeda operative -- one of the nation's most wanted terrorists -- to the New York subway bomb plot that netted the arrests of Najibullah Zazi and other alleged co-conspirators, CBS 2 has learned.

Authorities believe that Adnan Shukrijumah met with one of the would-be suicide bombers in a plot that Attorney General Eric Holder called one of the most dangerous since 9/11. 

Officials say Shukrijumah is among the top candidates to be al Qaeda's next head of external operations, the man in charge of planning attacks worldwide. 

Federal prosecutors have named Shukrijumah in a draft indictment but were still discussing whether to pursue it. Some feared the extra attention would hinder efforts to capture him. 

Current and former officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it. 

Officials said Zazi and two of his cohorts planned simultaneous suicide attacks on the Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 6 trains in Manhattan -- all part of the of the IRT system. The bombs were to go off days after the 9/11 anniversary last year, with a bomber in the center car of a rush hour train on each line. Rush hour was the target time. 

The story apparently came from the lips of Zazi as he began earlier this year to cooperate with federal prosecutors in exchange for a deal for them to be lenient with members of his family who might have assisted him while he was being sought by the FBI. He and two co-conspirators, both friends form his days at Flushing High School, are jailed in Brooklyn. The fourth suspect named by Zazi was under arrest in Pakistan, sources told CBS 2 HD, and is awaiting extradition. 

One source told CBS 2 HD's Marcia Kramer in April that the fourth man is, in fact, a known al Qaeda operative. 



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