By Della Hasselle
MANHATTAN—U.S. counterterrorism officials have linked an al-Qaida operative to last year’s foiled plot to bomb New York’s subway system, authorities said Wednesday.
Adnan Shukrijumah, reportedly a top al-Qaida operative, met with would-be subway bomber Najibullah Zazi right before officials thwarted the plan, the New York Post reported.
Shukrijumah’s involvement with the plot that officials have called “one of the most dangerous since the 9/11 terror attacks” is a clear indication al-Qaida wants to attack New York again, officials said.
Federal prosecutors have indicted Shukrijumah, 34, but are still working with the Justice Department about whether to cite his role because of fear that the attention will hinder efforts to capture him, the Post reported.
The Saudi-born Shukrijumah, who spent part of his youth in Brooklyn, the New York Times reported, has eluded the FBI since 2003, when he escaped the U.S. from Florida before the officials could arrest him as a material witness to a terrorism case.
The United States is offering a $5 million reward for any information leading to his capture, according to the Post.
The contact between Zazi and Shukrijumah was reported by the Associated Press.
Zazi and his two friends were arrested in September 2009 before they were able to carry out the plan of detonating their homemade bombs during rush hour. Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay pleaded guilty, while terrorist Another alleged accomplice, Adis Medunjanin, awaits trial.
A fourth suspect may be brought to the U.S. from Pakistan to go to trial on charges that aren’t yet public, the Post reported.
Pakistani officials have also arrested a fifth person, officials told the Associated Press.
The FBI and U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn declined to comment to the paper.
The subway plot was thwarted last year when U.S. intelligence intercepted an e-mail that discussed detailed bomb-making techniques. The e-mail, sent to an address in Denver, was from an account previously linked to al-Qaida operations.
It was tracked to Zazi, who was arrested crossing the George Washington Bridge.