The U.S. Justice Department said the charges allege the plot against New York's subway system uncovered in September 2009 involving Colorado resident Najibullah Zazi was directed by senior al-Qaida leadership in Pakistan. Federal prosecutors say it also was directly related to Pakistani al-Qaida members' plans to use Western operatives to attack a target in the United Kingdom.
The superseding indictment charges Adnan El Shukrijumah, also known as "Hamad;" Adis Medunjanin, also known as "Mohammad;" Abid Naseer; Tariq Ur Rehman, and a fifth defendant known as "Ahmad," "Sohaib" or "Zahid" with several terrorism counts.
They face the possibility of life in prison if convicted.
"These charges underscore the global nature of the terrorist threat we face," David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a release. "They further reflect the effectiveness of mutual investigations and cooperation with our global partners in disrupting terrorism threats."
Authorities allege the plot involving Zazi was organized by Saleh al-Somali, Rashid Rauf and El Shukrijumah, who led al-Qaida's "external operations" program dedicated to terrorist attacks in the United States and other Western countries.
Zazi pleaded guilty to his role in the New York subway plot Feb. 22 and a co-conspirator, Zarein Ahmedzay, pleaded guilty April 23.
El Shukrijumah, a 34-year-old native of Saudi Arabia who allegedly was a leader in al-Qaida's external operations program, now faces formal charges. He has been wanted by the FBI for several years and remains at large despite a $5 million reward offered for his capture.
British authorities conducted searches of Naseer and Rehman's homes where they found surveillance photographs of public areas in Manchester and maps of Manchester's city center posted on a wall, with one location highlighted. The United States intends to seek the extradition of Naseer, who is in custody in the United Kingdom. Rehman is not in custody.
The new indictment also alleges Medunjanin tried to crash his car into another car in New York as a last-ditch suicide attack on American soil. Medunjanin is in U.S. custody.