In a sharp indictment that fixes the spotlight squarely on Pakistan's involvement in terror attacks, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has unveiled fresh charges implicating senior Al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. The charges are levelled specifically against five members of the Al-Qaeda for their plot to attack targets in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

The charges, unsealed on Thursday, reveal that a plan to attack New York's subway system — discovered in September 2009 and involving Colorado resident Najibullah Zazi — was in fact directed by Pakistan-based leaders of Al-Qaeda. The charges also indict other Al-Qaeda masterminds in Pakistan who allegedly planned to use “Western operatives to attack a target in the U.K.”

Those charged include Adnan El Shukrijumah a.ka. “Hamad”; Adis Medunjanin, a.k.a. “Mohammad”; Abid Naseer; Tariq Ur Rehman; and a fifth defendant known as “Ahmad”, “Sohaib” or “Zahid”. The DoJ, in a statement, said each of the defendants faced a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Touching upon the international dimension of the terror threats, Assistant Attorney-General for National Security David Kris said: “These charges underscore the global nature of the terrorist threat we face. They further reflect the effectiveness of mutual investigations and cooperation with our global partners in disrupting terrorism threats.”

The charges came even as a recent Congressional report said the increase in Islamist extremism and militancy in Pakistan was a central U.S. foreign policy concern and this increase hindered progress toward key U.S. goals “including the defeat of Al-Qaeda and other anti-U.S. terrorist groups, Afghan stabilisation, and resolution of the historic Pakistan-India rivalry…”