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Friday, July 07, 2006

Plotters sought to bomb New York tunnel - paper

WASHINGTON, July 7 (Reuters) - A plot to bomb New York's Holland Tunnel in an effort to flood the Wall Street financial district has been uncovered by the FBI, with a suspect arrested in Lebanon, New York's Daily News reported on Friday.

The newspaper, quoting unidentified counterterrorism sources, said the investigation involved what officials considered a "serious plot" to detonate enough explosives inside the landmark tunnel to destroy it and send devastating floodwaters through lower Manhattan.

The 79-year-old tunnel runs under the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan and carried almost 34 million vehicles in 2005.

The Daily News said authorities in Beirut, at the request of U.S. officials, arrested one of the suspected conspirators, identified as Amir Andalousli, in recent months and that agents were seeking other suspects around the world.

The newspaper said the FBI and New York police officials declined comment on the investigation, which it quoted a source as describing as "ongoing."

The Daily News quoted a counterterrorism source as saying officials were alarmed because the plotters allegedly got a pledge of financial and tactical support from Jordanian associates of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq before he was killed last month in a U.S. air strike. The paper said it was not clear if any cash or assistance was delivered.

Lebanon's government had been asked by the United States to hold off on announcing the arrest while operations to disrupt the plot were continuing, the Daily News quoted sources as saying.

It said New York officials, according to sources, believed the plan could conceivably work with enough explosives placed in the middle of the tunnel.

But it added that some experts did not consider the plan feasible because the tunnel was protected by concrete and cast-iron steel and that even if the tunnel cracked, the Wall Street district would not flood because it was above the level of the river.

Seven men were charged in the United States last month with conspiring to blow up the landmark Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI buildings in Miami and four other cities as part of a pledge to al Qaeda to wage war against America. U.S. officials said the plot never went beyond the earliest stages.
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