The just-foiled airline bomb plot has precedents, The New York Times reminds us:
The plot to blow up several airliners flying between Britain and the United States bears a striking resemblance to a plot hatched by al Qaeda operatives 12 years ago to simultaneously blow up airliners over the Pacific.That plot was hatched in Manila by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was starting his climb to be a top lieutenant to Osama bin Laden, and by Ramzi Yousef, who was the mastermind of the first bomb attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. It was financed by bin Laden.Which is perhaps why U.S. officials are saying the current plot bears Al Qaeda's fingerprints. But remember, it's open-source terrorism we face. That this plot looks like the Manila plot means only that the terrorists are drawing from the same well of tactics and philosophy, not that there's any formal Al Qaeda command and control in place.Does it even mean anything any more to invoke Al Qaeda?--David AxeUPDATE 8/11/06: Sure enough, officials have told Time that there is no evidence of Al Qaeda command and control:
Though the plot has all the hallmarks of an al Qaeda operation, U.S. officials cautioned that there isn't yet evidence of a direct link between the plotters and the organization's top leaders. "We're not convinced this particular operation is connected to the al Qaeda chain of command," Charles Allen, Chief of Intelligence for the Department of Homeland Security, told reporters on Thursday afternoon. As for whether the attack was being timed for the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, Allen said he thought the attack would simply be launched when it was ready. "I am a long standing believer that terrorist plotters or planners execute when they have all of the plot together," said Allen. "We have no evidence this was timed to any particular holiday or special event."