Today, the Justice Department announced that it charged five al Qaeda members with plotting to not just attack the NYC subways last fall but also attack another country. Per the FBI press release, the scheme the involved former Queens resident Najibullah Zazi "was also directly related to a scheme by al Qaeda plotters in Pakistan to use Western operatives to attack a target in the United Kingdom."

One of the men charged is Adnan El Shukrijumah, the "feared and elusive" leader mentioned in connection with the plot last week. Apparently he and two others, Saleh al-Somali and Rashid Rauf, were heads of al Qaeda’s “'external operations' program dedicated to terrorist attacks in the United States and other Western countries." From the prosecutors' press release:

Between September and December 2008, Saleh and El Shukrijumah recruited Zazi and Zazi’s co-conspirators, Zarein Ahmedzay, and Medunjanin, to conduct suicide bombings in New York City using improvised explosive devices made from supplies such as hydrogen peroxide, acetone, flour, and oil. According to the indictment and court filings, Saleh communicated with Zazi through “Ahmad,” an al Qaeda facilitator in Peshawar, Pakistan. In early September 2009, after Zazi constructed the detonator explosives for the attack, he e-mailed with “Ahmad” in Pakistan about the proper ingredients for the flour-based main charge explosive. Zazi pleaded guilty to his role in the New York subway plot on February 22, 2010; Ahmedzay similarly pleaded guilty on April 23, 2010.


And Ahmad was allegedly "also communicating with Manchester-based, United Kingdom resident Naseer. Naseer, like Zazi, was in Peshawar, Pakistan in November 2008, according to the court filings." Naseer's emails to "Ahmad" "used coded language to refer to different types of explosives" and a "large 'wedding' for numerous guests between April 15 and 20, 2009, and that “Ahmad” should be ready."

The US is offering a $5 million reward for Shukrijumah's capture. And today is the fifth anniversary of the London bombings that occurred on mass transit.