ELMWOOD PARK, N.J. - Two New Jersey men who envisioned a terrorist attack in the U.S. with a body count twice that of the Fort Hood, Texas, massacre were arrested Saturday at a gate New York's Kennedy Airport as they were about to board flights on their way to Somalia to seek terror training from al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists, officials said.

Mohamed Mahmood Alessa, 20, and Carlos Eduardo Almonte, 26, were arrested before they could board separate flights to Egypt and then continue on to Somalia, federal officials in New Jersey and the New York Police Department said yesterday.

Law enforcement became aware of the men in fall 2006, after receiving a tip. New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said they had traveled to Jordan in 2007 and tried to get into Iraq, but were turned back by their would-be recruiters.

Since then, during a lengthy investigation, an NYPD undercover officer recorded conversations with the men in which they spoke about jihad against Americans.

"I leave this time. God willing, I never come back," authorities say Alessa told the officer last year. "Only way I would come back here is if I was in the land of jihad and the leader ordered me to come back here and do something here. Ah, I love that."