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The true story of a potentially devastating terrorist plot in New York City—and the heroes who risked their lives to prevent it.
On the morning of July 31, 1997, two young Palestinian men living in Brooklyn, New York, were prepared to sacrifice themselves as martyrs to their bloody cause. Their plan—to board a subway filled with commuters, wait until the train was traveling through the tunnel under the East River, and then detonate a shrapnel-covered explosive belt they had built in their tenement apartment. The attack would have killed hundreds, possibly even thousands, while sending the city—and the country—into a state of panic.
This is the inspiring, startling, and frightening true story of how the NYPD learned of the impending attack and made a daring predawn raid on the terrorist hideout. The gripping series of events began with an Egyptian immigrant who, learning of the plan, alerted the police. Coordinating an assault with limited resources and manpower, seven brave members of the NYPD moved in—reaching the terrorists when they literally had their fingers on the trigger—saving countless lives, preventing a disaster that would have paralyzed New York City, and alerting the nation that, in today’s world, violence and terror could begin at home.
Had the New York Police Department's Emergency Service Unit (ESU) not done its job on July 31, 1997, the subway tunnels in New York City would have been ground zero. The would-be suicide bombers two young Palestinians with homegrown rage but no ties to al-Qaeda lived in Brooklyn, near a radical mosque; a nearby tenant, an Egyptian immigrant, in fear himself of authorities, revealed the plot to law enforcement. Veteran security affairs author Katz provides a cops'-eye view of the case, with affectionate, detailed profiles of the men and processes involved, and a moment-by-moment account of the planning and execution of an elaborate raid. A large bomb was found and detonated safely; one plotter was shot at close range (and police wondered if they themselves would be prosecuted) but survived. Katz's attempts to get inside the bombers' heads miss (he didn't interview them), but he provides important details of a case that police considered a tragically ignored wake-up call. One of the men got two life sentences, the other spent 36 months in prison and was then deported to the Palestinian territories. Photos not seen by PW.