Triangle man tied to unconfirmed 9/11 bomb threat

Posted September 9, 2011

— A man accused of being part of a terrorist cell in the Triangle has been linked to what U.S. counter-terrorism officials have called a credible but unconfirmed al-Qaida threat to set off a car bomb on bridges or tunnels in New York City or Washington.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Jude Kenan Mohammad is among three al-Qaida leaders that investigators believe pose a particular threat because they have lived in the U.S.

"Here's your likely profile of someone with the wherewithal, the motivation (and) the contacts to carry out that sort of attack," said Frank Perry, a former FBI agent in Raleigh.

Mohammad, 22, dropped out of Fuquay-Varina High School in 2006 and left the U.S. two years later to visit Pakistan, his father's homeland.

A federal grand jury indicted him and seven other Triangle men in 2009 on charges that they conspired to carry out terrorist activities around the world. Two of the men have pleaded guilty, and the trial of four others is set for Sept. 19 in New Bern.

Federal authorities have never arrested Mohammad in the case, saying that they believe he has been in Pakistan since the indictment was issued.

"They were far along in their planning and he's not here, so perhaps he's done more planning since then," Perry said. "If he's a so-called leader, it could be a leader for a particular operation. It could be a leader of a particular cell."

Triangle terror case graphic Triangle man may be part of new terror threat

The car bomb threat is the first word of an "active plot" timed to coincide with the somber commemoration of al-Qaida's 9/11 attacks a decade ago that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Counter-terrorism officials were investigating the threat throughout Thursday night and Friday morning, as police in New York and Washington said they would increase their already stepped-up staffing levels in light of the recent intelligence.

Law enforcement officials were pursuing three people who may be traveling to the U.S. or who have recently entered the country, based on the detailed information received by the U.S. intelligence community late Wednesday, officials said. The intelligence suggested that al-Qaida planned to car bomb one of the two cities that were hit 10 years ago.

Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that there was no confirmation that anyone had traveled into the U.S. for such a plot although the tip came from a credible source. "There's no certitude," he said.

"The thing we are all most worried about is what they call a 'lone ranger,' a lone actor, not some extremely complicated plan like it took to take down the World Trade towers," said Biden, who appeared on the trio of network morning TV shows Friday.

A U.S. official said the source of the terror tip indicated that al-Qaida's new leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, was involved in planning the plot. But the official also said that many in the intelligence community question that and other aspects of the source's information.

The nation's terror alert level has not changed, but raising it was under consideration Thursday night.

Some New York residents said they were already on high alert.

"When I heard it this morning on the radio, it definitely made me a little bit nervous, but I think you kind of have to go on," resident Mark Clark said. "I trust that we've made some of the changes that we need to be safer in the meantime."

"Your best place is stay in the house during the day. Don't come out because you don't know what's going to happen," resident Quinseya Johnson said.

Others said they were confident that security measures were in place to protect the city from another terrorist attack.

"I don't think that you should be scaring the whole world," student David Klugman said. "Police will do what they have to do – take the proper security measures – and hopefully nothing will happen."

NY residents take terror threat in stride NY residents take terror threat in stride

"Because of all the things in place now, I think the city is probably a lot safer now than it was before," resident Jim Coles said.

Officials described the threat to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters.

Security has been enhanced around the country in the weeks leading up to the 10th anniversary, a date officials have long known could draw an attack. Law enforcement officials have been particularly wary after information gleaned from Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan indicated that al-Qaida had considered attacking the U.S. on this anniversary and other important American dates. Officials have also been concerned that terrorists would see the anniversary as an opportunity to retaliate against the U.S. for killing bin Laden in a military raid in May.

The FBI and Homeland Security Department issued a joint intelligence bulletin Thursday night to law enforcement around the country urging them to maintain increased security and be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

The threat came in a single piece of information and was so specific – and came at such a time of already heightened alert – that it could not be ignored, officials said.

"There is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information," said Janice Fedarcyk, the head of the FBI's New York division. "As we always do before important dates like the anniversary of 9/11, we will undoubtedly get more reporting in the coming days."

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters that police there were deploying additional resources around the city but that New Yorkers should go about their business as usual, and the city's observance of the attacks will go on as planned.

In Washington, law enforcement officials said they were working 12-hour days indefinitely, and Police Chief Cathy Lanier said unattended cars parked in unusual locations risked being towed.

Briefed on the threat information Thursday morning, President Barack Obama directed the U.S. counter-terrorism community to redouble its efforts, a White House official said.

As of late Thursday, there were no plans to change Obama's travel schedule on Sunday in light of the threat, the White House said. The president is scheduled to mark the 9/11 anniversary with stops at New York's ground zero, the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa. He also will deliver remarks Sunday night at a memorial concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington.

Law enforcement officials are checking out all of the details included in the threat, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said.

"No need to panic," King said. "They have not been able to confirm it yet."

Intelligence officials had not seen any specific or credible threats regarding an attack around the anniversary before Wednesday.

Thursday morning, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told reporters that there was "a lot of chatter" around the anniversary of the attacks but that there was no information about a specific threat. Napolitano had been briefed on early interpretations of the threat that morning as intelligence officials were still trying to determine the validity of the information. It later became clear that the threat was specific and credible and could not be dismissed, even though it has not been confirmed.


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  • Henry Bourne Sep 12, 2011

    "For those babbling on about the constitution..."

    Whether you know it or not, governments used the same arguments then as they do now to take away liberties, raise taxes, and expand government. The Founding Fathers knew this. Why do you think they said those things?

    Yes, there are some extremists out there. But if you boiled it down, there's probably about 50 or 100 dangerous guys in Afghanistan. Divide that by the trillion or so we've spent there. Does $10 billion per guy seem worth it to you?

    We could probably spend a trillion on improving our roads and saved more lives.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 9, 2011

    There's a difference between caution and fear, for rational people.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 9, 2011

    hunter38 - "We brought this mess upon ourselves!!!!"

    Who's "we"?

    I had nothing to do with it.

  • rherring23 Sep 9, 2011

    Terrorist threats should be taken seriously. Does not matter if they are confirmed or not. No we should not live in fear, but we should not ignore them either. Ignoring threats is not what made America, standing up against them, fighting for our way of life is what made America. Maybe we can't stop an attack, but maybe just one person might see something or hear something that would make a difference, and if that saves just one American life then it is worth it, but ignoring it has no chance of saving a life. And of all the past threats, why in the world would we take this one serious, Bin Laden killed this year, 10th anniversary, and opening day of football season with hundreds of thousands of Americans sitting in stadiums across the country. Could there actually be a better time for an attack. And who would die to protect our way of life, how about soldiers, policemen, and a lot of other Americans, don't confuse the American people with the American government.

  • Sherlock Sep 9, 2011

    He has been accused, but nothing has been proven. So we can do nothing about this. He has rights because he is an America. Just let him go until he does commit a crime. He has the rights of a free citizen of this country.

  • Mark Hayes Sep 9, 2011

    For those babbling on about the constitution and Jefferson,Madison get a grip their gone we're here and we no longer use those documents anymore unless it is to lend some advocates a platform,we are indeed in a war and some people better give up that sympathetic dribble and face up to it and if your not one of us then you must be one of them.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 9, 2011


  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 9, 2011

    "Anyone notice the banishment of “pled” about 5 years or so ago? The newspapers used to say “The defendant pled not guilty.” Suddenly, everything became “pleaded.” I contend that this is an improper imposition of some kind of twisted “grammar correctness,” except it is incorrect. “Pled” is a less emotional word than “pleaded”. I plead when I am begging for something. Unless the defendant is on his knees weeping, he is not pleading, he is entering a plea. In the past tense, he pled, not pleaded. What do you think?"


  • Big Mike Sep 9, 2011

    Unconfirmed or not..if they think he is a threat..take no doesn't equal 2000+ dead...

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Sep 9, 2011

    "why they created this country and organized the government the way they did."

    True but not the way you misguidedly think.

    The government we have today has Jefferson and Madison spinning in their graves in disgust.