Zazi recounted how, after leaving their Queens neighborhood for Pakistan in 2008, the three Muslim men met a top al-Qaida operative they knew only as Hamad. Authorities say Hamad was Adnan Shukrijumah, a Saudi listed on an FBI website as a fugitive who plotted attacks for al-Qaida worldwide.
Hamad told the three that they were best suited for an operation on U.S. soil. He also mulled over potential targets with them, including the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square and an unspecified Walmart store, Zazi said.
The men ended up picking the subway because "it's the heart of everything in New York City," Zazi said Wednesday. The purpose, he added, was "to make America weak."He added: "It was our choice."
At another al-Qaida outpost in the South Waziristan region of Pakistan, Zazi said he learned how to extract explosives ingredients from nail polish remover and other products sold at beauty supply stores.
"It was very simple, and they're everywhere," he said of the chemicals.
In a later meeting in New York, the plotters decided to blow themselves up at three different locations at morning rush hour inside the Manhattan subway system during the month of Ramadan, Zazi said. They hoped that "people would have a lot of fear," he said.
And if it doesn't explode, you could always have it for supper.After leaving Pakistan, Zazi relocated to Denver, where he tried to blend back into society by driving an airport shuttle van. Behind the scenes, he bought beauty supplies, rented a hotel room with a kitchen and prepared acetone peroxide for a detonator, he said.
He also emailed an al-Qaida operative asking for the recipe — "right away, please" — for a bomb made from flour and ghee oil.