Colo. terror plot suspect due in federal court - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Colo. terror plot suspect due in federal court

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File - Najibullah Zazi arrives at the offices of the FBI in Denver for questioning on in this Sept. 17, 2009 file photo. FBI agents late Saturday Sept. 19, 2009 arrested Najibullah Zazi, and his father, Muhammad Zazi during a raid Zazi's home. File - Najibullah Zazi arrives at the offices of the FBI in Denver for questioning on in this Sept. 17, 2009 file photo. FBI agents late Saturday Sept. 19, 2009 arrested Najibullah Zazi, and his father, Muhammad Zazi during a raid Zazi's home.
DENVER (AP) - Three people, including an Afghanistan-born Colorado man who allegedly received al-Qaeda training and had bomb-making instructions on his computer, face court appearances Monday on charges of lying to authorities in an ongoing terror investigation.

Investigators say Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old airport shuttle driver, played a direct role in the alleged terror plot. Investigators said they found notes on bomb-making instructions that appear to match Zazi's handwriting, and discovered his fingerprints on materials - batteries and a scale - that could be used to make explosives.

Publicly, law enforcement officials have repeatedly said they are unaware of a specific time or target for any possible attacks. Privately, officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss, said investigators have worried most about the possible use of backpack bombs on New York City mass transit trains, similar to attacks carried out in London and Madrid.

Backpacks and cell phones were taken from apartments in the Queens raids last week.

Zazi and his 53-year-old father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, were arrested Saturday in Denver. Ahmad Wais Afzali, 37, was arrested in New York, where he is an imam at a mosque in Queens.

The three are accused of making false statements to the government. The Zazis were scheduled to appear in federal court in Denver on Monday. Afzali was to appear Monday in federal court in New York.

If convicted, they face eight years in prison.

The younger Zazi has publicly denied being involved in a terror plot. His attorney, Arthur Folsom, dismissed as "rumor" any notion that his client played a crucial role, and Zazi's defense team did not respond to attempts to reach them Sunday.

Federal officials in Denver declined to comment.

Mohammed Zazi and Afzali are accused of lying to FBI agents about calls between Denver and New York. An affidavit accuses Afzali of lying about a call in which he told Najibullah Zazi that he had spoken with authorities.

Zazi's father is accused of lying when he told authorities he didn't know anyone by the name of Afzali. The FBI said it recorded a conversation between Mohammed Zazi and Afzali.

Prosecutors have said they're not seeking to detain Zazi's father. It was unclear whether they would seek to detain Afzali, who has worked as an informant for New York police.

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who tracks such investigations, said authorities could have made the arrests because they feared too much information was getting to the suspects. Additional charges could be filed later, he said.

Ron Kuby, Afzali's attorney, has said the government may have been forced to act after Najibullah Zazi went to New York. Zazi has said he drove there in September to resolve issues with a coffee cart he owns in Manhattan.

Kuby said Monday that his client had fully cooperated with the FBI, and was aware all along that his phone calls were being monitored.

"Why in the world is he going to lie about the content of a conversation that he knew was being taped?" Kuby said outside the Brooklyn courthouse where Afzali was to appear later in the day.

He accused authorities of trying to make Afzali a scapegoat for a botched investigation.

"The government wants somebody to blame for the fact that they haven't caught any terrorists," he said.

An arrest warrant affidavit alleges Zazi admitted to FBI agents that he received instruction from al-Qaeda operatives on subjects such as weapons and explosives. It also says he received the training in the federally administered tribal areas of Pakistan.

Court documents filed in Denver say Zazi spoke with agents under an agreement where he might avoid prosecution. Zazi's defense denied reports that he considered a plea deal related to terror charges.

The FBI said it found images of handwritten notes on a laptop containing formulas and instructions for making a bomb, detonators and a fuse. Zazi told the FBI that he must have unintentionally downloaded the notes as part of a religious book and that he deleted the book "after realizing that its contents discussed jihad."

An affidavit says the handwriting on the notes appeared to be Zazi's. It also says they were e-mailed in December as an attachment between accounts believed to be owned by Zazi, including an account that originated in Pakistan.

FBI agents say Najibullah Zazi traveled to Pakistan twice this year. Zazi says he was visiting his wife, who lives in the Peshawar region.

Zazi was born in Afghanistan, moved to Pakistan at age 7 and emigrated to the United States in 1999. He returned to Pakistan in 2007 and 2008 to visit his wife, according to Folsom.


Associated Press writers Devlin Barrett in Washington, D.C., Ivan Moreno in Denver, and Samantha Gross, Jennifer Peltz and Larry Neumeister in New York City contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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