Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person
The chatter was persistent--and alarming. In the weeks after the deadly March bombings of four commuter trains in Madrid by al Qaeda operatives, the supersecret U.S. surveillance network, Echelon, intercepted a number of messages from suspected terrorists suggesting planning for a massive, multipronged assault on the United States. When? Between this summer's political conventions and October, one month before the presidential election. The intelligence appeared to confirm information obtained from some seized al Qaeda computers and from several human sources, government officials say. Officials at the CIA and the National Security Agency, which runs the Echelon program, believe the information is credible but worry that the human sources were on the periphery of the now widely dispersed al Qaeda network. Nevertheless, the information pointed to two, perhaps three, targets, the sources say: New York, Washington, and Las Vegas. The objective of the suspected attack, the officials continued, would be not only to cause mass casualties and devastation of U.S. infrastructure but to roil the presidential race. The Madrid bombings, which killed 191 people and wounded 1,800, also toppled the Spanish government and triggered the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. "Since Spain," says a Bush administration official, "al Qaeda has had the feeling of 'We can do this. We can affect an election.' "