EXCLUSIVE The discovery of computer materials belonging to al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan led American officials to warn of threats to specific facilities inside the U.S. Several hard drives and 51 computer discs recovered in Pakistan provide evidence that al-Qaeda has conducted extensive surveillance of U.S. targets. Surveillance reports found on the computers contain some 500 photographs of targeted buildings and discussions about how to hit them. A senior U.S. law-enforcement official gave TIME's Adam Zagorin a partial inventory of the material, including descriptions of potential attacks in the terrorists' words:
NEW YORK CITY
DATA GATHERED A major focus of both the surveillance reports and the photographs was New York City and nearby New Jersey. The discs contain photos of public and private heliports and helicopter cockpits, controls and locking mechanisms on doors that separate the cockpit from passengers. The terrorists had also scanned brochures of New York City tours
POSSIBLE PLOT The discs contain specific material related to a heliport in the New York financial district, suggesting possible airborne attacks on a variety of high-profile institutions
The terrorists labeled photos depicting "views" of "downtown" and "midtown"
NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE
DATA GATHERED The terrorists collected detailed information on the construction and layout of the facility
POSSIBLE PLOT Unspecified bombing or fire attack
Noting windows behind the six columns at the main entrance, an al-Qaeda report concludes the facility is "a little fragile"
DATA GATHERED The terrorists collected information on the structure of the building. It is unclear whether they were aware that the midtown-Manhattan building had engineering weaknesses and underwent structural modifications to correct them after its construction in 1977
POSSIBLE PLOT Suicide attack. Terrorists recommended using "usual methods," most likely a large truck bomb. They specifically discussed using a heavy gasoline or oil-tanker truck but were worried that stealing or hijacking a vehicle could be difficult because many are equipped with GPS navigation devices that can be tracked
The building, "like the World Trade Center, is supported on steel, load-bearing walls, not a steel frame," according to a terrorist surveillance report. Operatives discuss using an explosives-filled vehicle and "steering it in"
PRUDENTIAL PLAZA BUILDING
DATA GATHERED Terrorists conducted heavy surveillance of the parking garage beneath the structure in Newark, N.J. They noted the repeated entry of black limos but doubted whether trucks and vans would be allowed in. Reports include extensive information on the New Jersey Transit and PATH passenger-rail systems, maps of the network and train timetables
POSSIBLE PLOT Vehicle-borne improvised explosive device
The operatives would use traditional methods of attack. They propose acquiring a black limo, gutting all but its front seats and filling the empty portion presumably with explosives. They also discuss using an oil truck to ram through the front entrance
WORLD BANK AND INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND