Was the Alleged Zazi Plot "The Real Thing?"

Last night, Katherine Tiedemann tweeted that the case of Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi is "looking more and more like the real thing." Indeed, over the past eight years, we became accustomed to the Bush administration trumpeting the arrests of incompetent wannabes as major counterterrorism successes -- but with Zazi, the New York Times reports, national security experts believe law enforcement may have foiled a plot that allegedly rivaled the 2005 bombings in London:

Jarret Brachman, author of “Global Jihadism” and a consultant to the government about terrorism, said some details — like what individuals trained Mr. Zazi in Pakistan — remained to be learned. But he said the case was “shaping up to be one of the most serious terrorist bomb plots developed in the United States,” one resembling the London public transit attacks of July 2005.

Yesterday, the FBI made two similar terror arrests in Illinois and Texas involving FBI agents posing as Al Qaeda operatives who provided suspects with dummy explosives. According to the Times, the alleged Zazi plot was far more serious -- "operational" rather than "aspirational." Zazi had attended an Al Qaeda training camp; he had the knowledge of how to build a bomb; and he was collecting the materials to complete the job.

There's still a lot we still don't know about the Zazi case -- how many others were involved, whether those people are in custody, or if the danger is really passed.

-- A. Serwer

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