I wonder how many trains they were planning to take out.

A law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Thursday that Zazi had associates in New York who were in on the plot. Court papers say that during the summer, Zazi and three unidentified associates bought “unusually large quantities” of hydrogen peroxide and acetone — a flammable solvent found in nail-polish remover — from beauty supply stores in the Denver area, products with names like Ion Sensitive Scalp Developer and Clairoxide.

Zazi searched a Queens home improvement store Web site for another ingredient needed to make a compound called TATP (Triacetone Triperoxide), the explosives used in the London bombings that killed over 50 people, prosecutors said…

Security video and receipts show that some of the purchases were made near a Colorado hotel, according to court papers. On Sept. 6 and 7, Zazi checked into a suite at the hotel with a kitchen and a stove, the papers say, and tried to contact an unidentified associate “seeking to correct mixtures of ingredients to make explosives.”

“Zazi repeatedly emphasized in the communications that he needed the answers right away,” the papers said. “Each communication” was “more urgent than the last.”

CNN has surveillance video from one of the beauty shops showing Zazi stocking up on hydrogen peroxide; you’ll find it below. The Times is now calling this the most serious plot on American soil since 9/11, and understandably so given that it’s the first to allegedly involve training with AQ in the Pakistani hinterlands where the London bombers got their marching orders. Follow the link and you’ll find multiple terrorism experts contrasting the professionalism of this operation with the sort of amateurish freelance stuff, like the Fort Dix Six, that the feds have spent the past eight years busting up.

Here’s something I can’t figure out, though: It seems to be an article of faith on the left, replete with stupidly mocking commentary on Olbermann’s show, natch, that those amateur plots were little more than wannabe jihadi fantasist bravado inflated by the Bush administration to “instill fear” in the public where none was warranted. There’s nothing particularly dangerous, the theory went, about four or five kooks getting their rocks off watching Bin Laden videos and hatching some harebrained scheme to attack a U.S. military base. And yet — change the identity of the suspects from Islamic radicals to American conservatives and have them be watching Glenn Beck instead of Osama and suddenly these same leftist idiots are on red alert for a reprise of Oklahoma City. Why is that? Why is it that the Fort Dix plot, which resulted in criminal convictions, was some sort of eye-rolling Bush propaganda gambit while the hanging of Bill Sparkman, which might not even be a case of murder, is instantly cause for panic? I don’t disagree with the left that the threat of political violence is real; I’ve written before about how creepy and contemptible it is when people bring guns to Obama rallies. After all, it only takes one nut with the element of surprise to kill. How come the left can see that when it comes to conservatives but not when it comes to jihadists? (Or G20 protesters, for that matter.)

Incidentally, while New York appears to be safe-ish for the moment, the same isn’t true everywhere in the west. Something big appears to be in the works in Germany and Bin Laden himself is signing his name to it. Cross your fingers.