Sometime before Day 2 began, terrorists Mamud Rasheed Faheen and Syed Ali smuggled a nuclear bomb into the United States with the intention of detonating it in Los Angeles. Marie Warner, an American woman, was a member of the terrorist cell: after her mother died, she met Ali, who convinced her of the righteousness of their cause. Marie managed to smuggle funds from her father's company, Warner Enterprises, to finance Second Wave's activities. They were also initially aided by a group of conspirators within the American government, headed by the director of National Security Agency, Roger Stanton, who planned to disable the bomb before it could detonate.
On the morning of Day 2, the NSA learned of Second Wave's plan from Jason Park. They also uncovered evidence that three Second Wave training camps were operating unimpeded inside Afghanistan. Palmer confronted the Afghan Prime Minister about the camps, and their government responded by taking four members of Second Wave into custody for questioning. However, satellite photos showed continued terrorist activity in the region, including Taliban armored vehicles in Kandahar.
Second Wave's plan to destroy Los Angeles was foiled by agents of the Counter Terrorist Unit and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who apprehended or killed most or all of its members and detonated the device safely in the Mojave Desert.
CTU dossiers of Tomas Sherek and Atef El-Khabir (two members of Habib Marwan's Turkish terrorist cell) listed them as prior or current members of Second Wave. Sherek was one of the coordinators of the kidnapping of Secretary of Defense James Heller, while El-Khabir worked with Marwan at a club called The Hub.
Background information and notes
- Second Wave's home country, Afghanistan, was never spoken in the dialogue. Instead, it was referred to only as "their country" or "our country", etc. The country's name is briefly visible, however, on the secret surveillance photos handed to Shareef by Roger Stanton during Day 2: 12:00pm-1:00pm.
- The name is most likely derived from the Second Wave of the Apocalypse mentioned in the quatrains of Nostradamus.
- The concept of a terrorist cell being manipulated by clandestine Western supporters who seek to profit from oil deals re-appears later in Season 5.