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Two men with Jordanian passports were arrested yesterday morning in a Brooklyn apartment, where police officers found components of one or more pipe bombs -- evidence of what the authorities say was a terrorist plot to detonate bombs in the busy Atlantic Avenue subway station and on a commuter bus.
The two suspects were shot after a team of New York City police officers, acting on a tip from a man who lived with the two, burst into the Park Slope apartment an hour before dawn. The police said they opened fire when one of the men appeared to be trying to set off one of the explosive devices.
Federal law enforcement officials said the police had recovered a nine-inch pipe packed with gunpowder and nails, and a device in which four pipes had been wrapped together and equipped with toggle-switch detonators. Three high-ranking investigators said yesterday that the lack of a timer or a remote-control detonator on the device strongly suggested that it was intended for a suicide attack.
Police Commissioner Howard Safir said the material was powerful enough to kill anyone within 25 feet of detonation in an enclosed space.
The plot was uncovered late Wednesday night, when a man, burdened with information that he felt compelled to unload, waved down a police officer to confess. His information carried a chilling resonance: on Tuesday, two suicide bombers set off explosions in a crowded Jerusalem market, killing 13 other people. Hamas, the militant Islamic organization, has claimed responsibility.
The discovery of the explosives created a tense scene in Brooklyn, where blocks were evacuated and subway trains rerouted, and it prompted the New York City police to bolster security at several public buildings, including the Police Headquarters at One Police Plaza in Manhattan and a number of courthouses.
It also served as yet another reminder of the city's vulnerability to terrorism, a point made forcefully in February 1993 when a bomb exploded beneath the World Trade Center, killing six people.
Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Federal officials were careful yesterday not to link yesterday's arrests to any single group or nationality. But the Mayor said, ''There are indications that at least one of the people involved in this, that was arrested, was yesterday expressing support for what happened in Israel and was gratified that it had occurred.''
Late last night, the New York Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement that evidence showed that the two suspects ''were planning to target United States and Jewish interests worldwide.'' The statement did not elaborate.
Investigators who searched the apartment after the shooting found an application, completed in the name of one of the suspects, requesting asylum in the United States. According to a criminal complaint, Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer indicated in the application that ''he had been previously arrested in Israel and accused of being a member of a known terrorist organization.'' In addition, the complaint said, an address book belonging to a second suspect, Lafi Khalil, ''contained the name of a member of a known terrorist organization.''
Investigators said that Mr. Mezer, 23, and Mr. Khalil, 22, had been in the United States for six months, were carrying passports from Jordan and had identified themselves as Palestinians. The two men, both in stable condition at Kings County Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds, were charged with conspiring to blow up buildings and vehicles.
It was from his hospital bed that Mr. Mezer provided a New York City detective and an agent from the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security with instructions on how to deactivate the bombs that he had helped to create. During that conversation, officials said, Mr. Mezer indicated that his plan was to detonate the bombs on the subway.
City police officials said a third man who was at the apartment at the time of the raid, Abdul Rahman Mossabah, 31, an Egyptian who entered the country two weeks ago, was being questioned.
Federal officials said yesterday that they were unsure whether the men were connected to Hamas or other terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad. Some officials said the suspects appeared more like an ad hoc group sympathetic to the aims of Hamas. But others said they could not rule out anything yet.
Whatever the international implications, the developments disrupted the daily routine of Brooklyn and unnerved many of its residents. Before the police raided the apartment, about 90 people were ordered to leave a three-block area for their own safety as the chop-chop of hovering helicopters broke the early-morning calm and as sharpshooters took their positions on rooftops. The B, M, N, and R subway trains were either rerouted or delayed, affecting the commuting of about 300,000 people, while vehicle traffic was diverted from the crime scene, only to clog side streets.
Most disturbing of all, perhaps, were the signs that indicated that a bombing was imminent and that its likely target was the Atlantic Avenue station, a commuting nexus that includes 10 subway lines and a Long Island Rail Road terminal. One of the accused was given a summons on Tuesday for fare-beating at the Pacific Street subway station, which is connected to the Atlantic Avenue complex, police officials said. They speculated that his visit may have been connected to the plot.
The events began unfolding with the frantic waving of a stranger along a darkened Brooklyn street. Law enforcement officials said the man, whom they identified as Mohammed Chindluri, flagged down a Long Island Rail Road police car at 10:45 P.M. and tried to explain, in Arabic, that disaster was imminent. He repeatedly screamed ''Bomba,'' the officials said, as he cupped his hands and flung them apart to mimic an explosion.
The officer in the police car brought the man to the 88th Precinct station house in Fort Greene, where an interpreter was summoned to translate his story, officials said. The man said that several men living in an apartment at 248 Fourth Avenue were planning to blow up subways and buses in New York City.
There have been conflicting accounts of the man's explanation for the motive of the conspirators. But, according to one investigator, the man's words carried international import: ''My roommates are going to follow up on Jerusalem.''
The New York City police soon set into motion an often-rehearsed plan of attack. By early morning, a team of Emergency Service Unit officers began to close in on the four-story building.
That stretch of Fourth Avenue, between Carroll and President Streets, is a mishmash of the residential and commercial; there are automotive-supply stores, a construction company, an after-hours club, a few bodegas and several apartments atop first-floor storefronts. In the midst of it all is a two-story study in neglect, with paint peeling and windows ajar: 248 Fourth Avenue. It houses the Family Car Service in front and has apartments in the back and above.
The men who lived in the apartment behind the storefront, including the suspects, were described as poor, friendly when spoken to, unassuming. But after yesterday's raid, mundane activities suddenly seemed to carry significance.
Nicholas Fialo, the superintendent of the building where the suspects lived, recalled that the men threw out the cases of television sets and video-cassette recorders, but kept the electronic components. He also said that after he had had a minor dispute with two tenants, one said: ''This is what happens in the United States. We got to make a big bomb and blow the United States up.''
Pola Lawal, the owner of an African market two blocks from the building, said five men lived in the apartment. Four had been there for several months, he said, and usually wore street clothes and sunglasses, although on occasion they would don robes. The fifth man arrived only a week ago, he said, and always dressed in religious garb. Mr. Lawal also said this man would walk briskly from the house to use a pay-phone several times a day.
''They wouldn't talk about anything,'' the shopkeeper said. ''They just liked to watch movies.''
The predawn raid was like a scene out of a movie. The police officers entered an apartment cast in darkness, save for the light from their flashlights. There they found one man in the front room, and two in the back bedroom, officials said.
In the maelstrom of shouts and screams, the police said, one man reached for an officer's gun while the other ''moved toward a black bag, which later was found to contain an electronic device,'' the criminal complaint said. The police opened fire, wounding two of the suspects.
Mr. Giuliani and Police Commissioner Safir described the shooting as justifiable. ''The action taken by the Emergency Service Unit officers prevented an attempt to detonate them,'' Mr. Safir said of the bombs.
At daybreak, the investigation was in full gear, headed now by the Joint Terrorist Task Force, with New York City detectives and agents from the F.B.I. and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
One of the first orders of business was to evacuate the immediate area. Jennifer Turner said the police began banging on her door at 5:30 A.M. ''They told us there was a bomb down the block,'' she said.
At times, residents said, the investigative style of the police was brusque. Masood Mughal, an American citizen originally from Pakistan, lives in another apartment in the Fourth Avenue building. He said the police broke his front door off its hinges, rousted him from his bed, and handcuffed him. Santiago Valaquez, a driver for the car service, said he had just ended his shift when officers threw him to the ground and aimed guns at his head.
Although the police had opened up Fourth Avenue by early afternoon, the investigation was continuing well after nightfall as F.B.I. agents questioned people about ''Arabs congregating'' in front of the car service, and checked garbage in cans along the sidewalk. Throughout, there emanated a sense of disaster diverted.
''You can't shield people from every danger,'' Mr. Giuliani said. ''But this is about the best you can do.''
Photos: A bomb squad officer gets help with his headgear after removing material from an apartment in Brooklyn. (Associated Press)(pg. A1); Police activity interrupted the early morning calm of Fourth Avenue near President Street in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn yesterday after a man told the police that there were bombs in his apartment there. (Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times)(pg. B4)