Southeast Asian security officials say a Malaysian recruited by al-Qaida to pilot a plane in a second wave of Nine-Eleven-style attacks on the United States has been in custody in his homeland since December 2002.
The officials say Zaini Zakaria pulled out of the plot after seeing the carnage at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and was unwilling to die as a martyr for Islam.
Yesterday, President Bush outlined details of an alleged plot to use shoe bombs to blow open the cockpit door of a commercial jetliner, take control of the plane and crash it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles.
Bush said cooperation between Washington and several Asian countries helped expose the plot, which he said was derailed when a Southeast Asian nation arrested a key al-Qaida operative.
Bush did not name the country or the operative. Security officials and terrorism experts in Southeast Asia say Zaini was among three men al-Qaida was preparing to take part in an attack on the U-S West Coast.