FBI: Investigating Several Other Suspects in U.S. & Pakistan
by Steven Emerson
Interview on FOX News
September 23, 2009
Multimedia for this item
MARTHA MACCALLUM: We want to get back to the terror plot that was just being discussed by David Lee Miller who's been following this story for us. Back with me again is Fox contributor Judith Miller and Steve Emerson joins us. He is the Executive Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism in D.C. Both of you welcome. Good to have you here. You know, there is a lot of discussion, Steve, let me go to you in DC on this first. There is a lot of discussion about a storage unit, about bomb making materials and yet what we have so far are these three men in custody only on charges of lying to investigators.
STEVEN EMERSON: Well Martha, what you have here is almost a perfect storm because this is the week with all of the dignitaries in New York, with the President, with the Israel Prime Minister, with the Iranian Foreign Minister-so nobody wanted to take any chances. Once they discovered there was a plot underway, and this plot was underway for the last 18 months to two years. Once it sort of took a different direction when there were formulations of chemical combustion material, talks about potential explosions, wiretaps back to Afghanistan and Pakistan, nobody wanted to take a chance that maybe there could have been explosives hidden someplace. So the searched out for storage containers, they searched out for any type of storage unit that might have contained some of the materials used for bombmaking. They didn't find any. It doesn't mean they won't find any but again because of what was going on this week they didn't want to take any chances.
MACCALLUM: Right, of course, and the scary part, Judith, is we don't know if this is still ongoing this plot. They are talking about 24 other people. Are they still out there? Are they ready to carry out this attack?
JUDITH MILLER: Well, we believe that some of them have been picked up and spoken to by the NYPD and the JTTF. You know, this is an FBI lead investigation. And yes there is some tension between the FBI and the NYPD but I would not make too much of that. This is an enormously charged situation in which people are very worried about the security of the city and the things they have found so far-backpacks, cellphones-that looks innocent but the handwritten notes of the main suspect, a bombmaking instruction that did not come off the internet, this is very serious. So yes, the assumption is there are other people out there. And I know that both the JTTF and the NYPD are very busy hunting for them.
MACCALLUM: Yes, so Steve how does this work? If they think they had as many as 24 associates who may still be out there and Judith is saying that she believes that some of them have already been spoken to, so we may see more arrests in this case. Are they throwing this out there so that the folks who might be involved are going to start to get pretty nervous and maybe start talking?
EMERSON: Well that's good question. Already, they have already taking to some of the Islamic Mosque leaders in New York. One of them turned out to be a dirty informant. In other words he was leaking information that he was getting to the New York City Police back to the actual culprit himself warning him he might be arrested if he came to New York City. There is a dragnet in Denver, in New York City, in Queens, in Brooklyn, and of course the FISA wiretaps, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, show phone calls to Afghanistan and Pakistan. And those are very serious because they clearly show that there are either directions given to or discussions about bomb making from those people connected to Al Qaeda.
MACCALLUM: Yeah, this is a huge case Judith because its one of the first that I remember that doesn't have an FBI plant in it. Somebody who looked up suspicious characters and started to try to sell them stuff. These guys appeared to have been cooking up something big. How worried should we be in New York City right now?
MILLER: Well look, I think there is always a fine line between being too worried between panic and between being complacent and that's what we as New Yorkers and as Americans have to cope with all the time. But look, this is as they say in law enforcement the "real deal." And you know the fact that there wasn't an informant, as you pointed out and also the fact that these guys-one of them had come from Afghanistan but when he was 12. So this is a homegrown guy. I think that this is what worries the NYPD. How many oother homegrown guys are there in our city who may not really be on the side of truth, justice, and the American way.
MACCALLUM: As many as 24 perhaps still out there. Steve, before I let you go. This has to be the dream of Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda wannabes to pull off something in New York City that is similar to what we saw in London, and similar what we saw in Spain that we have been mercifully spared of here.
EMERSON: Listen, before I came on the show I was talking to a dissident Islamic Imam in New York City and he was telling me about the fact that he broke away from a Mosque that was full of Taliban supporters. Hundreds of Taliban supporters in his Mosque. This gives you an idea, Martha, of the extent to which there is sympathy for the Taliban or for Al Qaeda. And the question is are they just wannabes, are they home grown or are they taking direction. We don't know at this point.
MACCALLUM: All you have to do is listen to Ghadafi today over at the U.N. talking about how the Taliban is not the enemy, right? Thank you very much Steve Emerson and Judith Miller. Big story we are going to continue to stay right on it.