Foreign Plot to Bomb Holland Tunnel Thwarted - Updated
[TW Note: This post has been updated. Please see clarification at end of post.]
On the first anniversary of London’s 7/7 bombings which killed 52, the New York Daily News is reporting that a months-long investigation has uncovered an overseas plot to bomb New York City’s Holland Tunnel in an attempt to destroy it and flood lower Manhattan’s financial district – the former home of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers.
One man, Amir Andalousli, has been arrested by Lebanese authorities at the request of the United States. The Daily News also reports that US agents were allowed to take part in the investigation and that agents were ‘scrambling’ to arrest several others believed to be involved, reported as being in various parts of the world.
In an aspect of the plot that is dedicated one line in the initial report but which will likely be given much more attention in the coming days, Jordanian followers of the former al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had pledged “financial and tactical support” to the plotters. The pledge had apparently come before he was killed y US forces in Iraq.
While attacking the United States economy has long been an aim of al-Qaeda, these particular individuals seeking to flood the New York financial district appear at first glance to have been more ambitious than brilliant, as the financial district (and indeed the Manhattan exit to the Holland Tunnel) lies above the Hudson River water table, and water will not run uphill to flood the streets of the district. They may have been motivated by the reports after the 9/11 attacks of securing the barrier wall that kept water from the basement parking of the World trade Center towers, which is indeed under the water table and built on landfill, and mistakenly assumed that the district itself could be flooded by a breech in a tunnel.
One New York City radio personality this morning was chuckling at the plot’s implausibility, wondering in a dismissive tone just how serious this threat could be, considering that water does not run uphill. This is a serious mistake in approach.
While there is certainly no need for hysteria and regardless of the plotters’ level of understanding of Manhattan and/or physics, it should be clearly understood that ambition is far more deadly than brilliance.
It should also be recognized that al-Qaeda in Iraq supporters offered tactical and financial support to plotters who were planning another attack on American soil.
This developing story is another success resulting from Internet monitoring and intelligence gathering, as the plot is reported to have been uncovered by observing conversations in Internet communications among the involved.
UPDATE - 2:15 PM
In today’s press conference this story was clarified. The plot was aimed at the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson Corporation) rail system between NY and NJ.