When asked whether the investigation had a Canadian connection, FBI spokesman Mark Mershon would only say six foreign governments on three continents were assisting in the investigation.
"We're not prepared to discuss the levels of co-operation," he said.
Security officials confirmed the investigation Friday after a New York newspaper reported earlier that morning that FBI agents had disrupted a plot in its early stages to blow up the Holland Tunnel, one of several tunnels connecting New Jersey and Manhattan. The goal was to cause havoc and flood New York's financial district.
Mershon wouldn't confirm the Holland Tunnel was the alleged target.
"This is a plot that would have involved martyrdom, explosives and certain of the tubes [tunnels] that connect New Jersey with Lower Manhattan," said Mershon. "We have, what we believe, is the real deal."
Assem Hammoud, a 31-year-old Lebanese man in custody in Lebanon, is facing criminal charges in connection with the investigation, said Mershon.
Lebanese police confirmed the arrest Friday, saying the man confessed to being the mastermind of the alleged plot and claimed allegiance to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.
Two other suspects in foreign countries are in custody but have not been charged, said Mershon.
Mershon said the FBI believes five other people are "principal players" in the alleged plot, but none are in the United States.
FBI agents and intelligence agencies from around the world had been monitoring the group for a year, Mershon said.
The FBI said it believes the suspects were about to move into a new phase of their plan, including the survey of targets and acquisition of materials needed to carry out the attack, which was to take place in October or November 2006.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg reassured city residents that they should go about their daily lives.
"There is not one shred of evidence this has gone beyond the planning stage," said Bloomberg.
Mershon criticized the "unknown individual" who leaked the story to the Daily News, saying it "greatly complicated" what had been smooth relationships with foreign intelligence services.
"This was not the date we planned to unfold this investigation," he said.
An anonymous counterterrorism source told the Daily News that Jordanian associates of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, recently killed in a U.S. air strike in Iraq, had pledged financial and tactical support for the plot.
Authorities told the paper the plot may have been inspired by hurricane Katrina's effects in New Orleans.
Experts said that while the damage to the Holland Tunnel could have been massive, the flooding scenario was debatable for a number of reasons.
"There are ways that the city could get flooded, especially Lower Manhattan, but I don't think this is one of them," Irwin Redlener, head of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, told the paper.
"It seems a little far-fetched. It's not like the water is above the island," he added. "It doesn't quite make sense."
Opened in 1927, the Holland Tunnel is protected by bedrock, concrete and steel. It has a maximum depth of nearly 30 metres and is more than 2.5 kilometres long.
Peter King, the New York congressman who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said he had received regular intelligence briefings on the alleged plot for several months.
"It would have been better if this had not been disclosed," he said.
The Republican representative has been one of the most ardent critics of a recent decision by the New York Times to reveal details of a government financial monitoring program aimed at tracking terrorist funding.
Check it out at CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/story/world/nation...nnel-plot.html
Damn those terrorists. What horrible news to recieve on the aniversary of the London bombings. And this is why we must fight to destroy these terrorist organizations.