The suicide attack, planned to mark last year’s anniversary of the September 11 attacks was to be the biggest plot in the US since 2001.
Previous reports had suggested that the men were under surveillance by the FBI for some time before their planned attacks but sources now say the plot came close to success.
The plot was only foiled when one of the men emailed an al-Qaeda fixer in Pakistan to ask for advice on mixing chemicals, security sources on both sides of the Atlantic have told The Daily Telegraph.
Three men were allegedly planning to strap bombs to themselves and attack the underground with coordinated explosions planned to emulate those on London five years ago.
The lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands of New York subway riders were saved by the faulty memory of a would-be jihadist and his failure to take notes.
The New York investigation began on September 6 2009 when an Afghan-born man brought up in Queen’s, New York also began emailing [the 'fixer'] Sohaib.
Najibullah Zazi was desperate to be reminded of his bomb-making instructions from a visit to Pakistan a year earlier.
He had already bought hydrogen peroxide and other bomb-making chemicals but wanted to know what proportions to use.
Luck is a good ally but a highly capricious one. Better to de-fang the Pakistani jihadi networks -- which may entail forcing their supporters in Pakistan's government and military to cut them off. As messy and difficult as that may be, it is likely a necessary precondition for stopping plots of this type at the source.