Ali was recorded saying to his ex-wife: ‘‘Oh, you think this is a flipping ‘Four Lions.’ We’re one man short.’’
Raffaello Pantucci, a terrorism expert at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said the foiled plot bore the hallmarks of a decentralized al-Qaida, in which local cells operate independently, often after receiving rudimentary training.
He said that ‘‘the time spent training foreign fighters by al-Qaida or affiliated networks is now being constrained because there is the threat of drone strikes’’ on the Pakistan-Afghan border.
‘‘The command and control element is drawing back,’’ he said. ‘‘It has a negative impact on their capacity to launch attacks because people aren’t being trained as well. There is sometimes a clownish element to it.’’