Officials: Car Bomb Plot Bears Al Qaeda's Trademark

Al Qaeda's mantra, "If at first you don't succeed, try again," appears, according to officials, to be behind today's foiled car bomb plot in London with the same kind of bombs aimed at the same kind of targets by, officials say, apparently some of the same kind of people.

British authorities tell ABC News a "crystal clear" surveillance photo of the driver of the silver Mercedes, discovered early Friday morning, bears "a close resemblance" to one of the associates of an al Qaeda operative now behind bars.

Photos Police Investigate Car Bombs in London

Officials say a surveillance camera caught the suspect "staggering from the Mercedes" shortly after parking it outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in Piccadilly Circus at the heart of London's nightclub and theater district.


Last year, al Qaeda operative Dhiren Barot was convicted by a British court for a plot to use limousines to carry similar bombs as those defused today to similar targets as the nightclubs allegedly targeted today.

In his own personal manual, Barot described how the cylinders, "if carefully orchestrated can be as powerful as exploding TNT," and "are easily available to the general public," designed for a "synchronized, concurrent (back-to-back) execution on the same day and time."

Videos posted on al Qaeda Web sites also show in full detail how to rig propane and butane cylinders as powerful bombs.

Video Al Qaeda Lesson in Bomb Making

And today's explosive device -- composed of five or six propane and butane cylinders as well as 33 gallons of gasoline, all rigged to detonate with calls to two cell phones -- followed Barot's manual and the al Qaeda videos closely.  Officials say the cell phones failed to initiate the explosions, even after each phone had been called twice, preventing a shrapnel-filled fireball from launching and killing people in the surrounding area.

The associate, to whom the silver Mercedes driver bears "a close resemblance," was initially arrested three years ago but later released for lack of evidence.

Barot's associates reportedly carried out surveillance of banks and corporate headquarters in London, Washington, D.C., and the New York area. 

In particular, Barot described how a coordinated explosion might bring down the huge Citicorp skyscraper in New York.

Today in New York, police said they were stepping up security patrols on mass transit and at major landmarks.

"We've increased the deployment of critical response vehicles, focusing on tourists sites: Times Square, Herald Square, theater district," New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

All of this comes just three weeks after what was described as al Qaeda "graduation" ceremony for suicide bombers at a training camp in Pakistan.

A videotape obtained and first reported by ABC News shows commanders sending teams of 50 to 60 men to launch suicide attacks in the United States, Canada, Germany and Great Britain. 

The fact that British police had one of the suspects in custody and then let him go will no doubt be hugely embarrassing, but officials say British authorities are overwhelmed with possible terror suspects and have been conducting constant surveillance of some 200 people.

In addition to the tension in London, German officials say they are equally concerned they could be a target soon.

Officials tell ABC News at least two men have been arrested inside Germany who came directly from the Pakistan training camp.

This post has been updated.

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