Well, not planned. “Prepared” would be a better choice of words: they built a working device and were 45 days away from using it when Ayman al-Zawahiri called off the attack. For unknown reasons.

So says Time magazine, citing a new book by former WSJ reporter Ron Suskin. They’re promising an extensive excerpt tomorrow morning but it’ll probably be subscriber-only so you’ll have to make do with this.

Worth noting:

Conventional wisdom has long held that the U.S. has no human intelligence assets inside al Qaeda. “That is not true,” writes Susskind. Over the previous six months, U.S. agents had been receiving accurate tips from a man the writer identifies simply as “Ali,” a management-level al-Qaeda operative who believed his leaders had erred in attacking the U.S. directly. “The group was now dispersed,” writes Suskind. “A few of its leaders and many foot soldiers were captured or dead. As with any organization, time passed and second-guessing began.”

Suskind names the ringleader too, but he was killed by Saudi police before the U.S. had a chance to interrogate him. Coincidentally.

The point to take away: Al Qaeda has crude WMD capabilities. Have a great evening!