US charges Afghan-born man with bomb plot

Author: By Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters

A New York grand jury charged Afghan-born Najibullah Zazi, 24, with plotting
with unidentified others as far back as August 2008 to “use one or more
weapons of mass destruction,” according to an indictment unsealed on
Thursday.

US authorities have said Zazi admitted to the FBI that he took a bomb-making
course at an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. He previously had been
charged and jailed in Colorado with lying to investigators.

Authorities have said they had no information on the timing, location or
target of any planned attacks. A spokeswoman for Zazi’s lawyer had no
comment.

“We are investigating a wide range of leads related to this alleged
conspiracy, and we will continue to work around the clock to ensure that
anyone involved is brought to justice,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in
a statement.

“We believe any imminent threat arising from this case has been disrupted, but
as always, we remind the American public to be vigilant and to report any
suspicious activity to law enforcement,” Holder said.

Zazi’s father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, also has been charged with lying to
authorities in Colorado. Ahmad Wais Afzali, a New York imam and New York
police informant, was charged in New York. All three Afghan-born men have
said they are innocent.

Zazi, a legal permanent US resident, had been under surveillance for some time
when the investigation was made public on Sept. 14, when law enforcement
units staged raids in Queens. Federal authorities say they acted after
Afzali tipped off Zazi that he was being watched.

Concerns that the plot may not have been completely disrupted led to a series
of warnings from law enforcement about purchases of large quantities of
materials that could be fashioned into explosive devices.

The government said over the last three months Zazi and unnamed associates
bought “unusually large quantities” of hydrogen peroxide and acetone
products that could be used to make bombs and that he had bomb-making notes
on his laptop computer.

In early September “Zazi attempted to communicate on multiple occasions with
another individual – each communication more urgent in tone than the last –
seeking to correct mixtures of ingredients to make explosives,” according to
court documents.

The notes on his computer detailed explosives that were similar to those used
in the 2005 London train bombings, the documents said.

The Justice Department said they planned to request that Zazi be transferred
to New York to face the charge, which carries a life sentence. The
government also plans to ask that he be held until trial.

They cited his overseas travel to receive bomb-making instructions, his
extensive research on the Internet regarding components of explosive
devices, multiple purchases of the parts necessary to make a bomb and going
to New York City on Sept. 10 as part of the criminal plot.

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