Denver Man Indicted On Terrorism Charges
Denver airport shuttle driver Najibullah Zazi has been indicted on a criminal charge of conspiring with others to detonate bombs somewhere in the United States, the Justice Department announced this morning.

The disclosure adds further urgency to the FBI-led investigation into an alleged terrorism plot that authorities admit they are still trying to unravel, including the identities of some of Zazi's suspected co-conspirators in New York, Colorado and elsewhere in the United States, Pakistan and possibly other locations.

"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," Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said in announcing the indictment. "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."

Zazi, 24, is scheduled to appear in court in Denver this morning on a single count of making false statements to authorities as they were investigating the suspected terror plot earlier this month. He was arrested late Saturday at his home in the Denver suburb of Aurora, along with his father and a New York Islamic religious leader who is also scheduled to be in court this morning.

But the Justice Department is expected to ask that those charges be dismissed against Zazi so he can be transferred to New York, where the new charge of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against persons or property in the United States was filed, authorities said.

In a detention motion, the Justice Department said that Zazi received detailed bomb-making instructions in Pakistan, that he purchased components of improvised explosive devices and that he traveled to New York City on Sept. 10 to further his criminal plans.

The detention motion also alleges that at least three other men, like Zazi, purchased "unusually large" quantities of hydrogen peroxide or acetone from beauty supply stores in the Denver area -- an indication that they were also conspiring to mix the chemicals into homemade bombs, authorities said. And it said that Zazi "and others" flew from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to Peshawar, Pakistan via Switzerland and Qatar in August 2008.

It does not identify the men or allege that they too trained in Al Qaeda camps, but some U.S. officials said that they have been urgently pursuing that possibility.

A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, returned the one-count terrorism indictment against Zazi Wednesday, alleging that between Aug. 1, 2008 and Sept. 21, 2009, he knowingly and intentionally conspired with others to use one or more weapons of mass destruction.

"Zazi remained committed to detonating an explosive device up until the date of his arrest, as exemplified by among other things, traveling overseas to receive bomb-making instructions, conducting extensive research on the internet regarding components of explosive devices, purchasing -- on multiple occasions -- the components necessary to produce TATP [Triacetone Triperoxide] and other explosive devices, and traveling to New York City on September 10, 2009 in furtherance of the criminal plan," a Justice Department detention memo states.

TATP is the explosive used in the deadly 2005 London train bombings and intended to be used in the 2001 plot by Richard Reid to detonate a shoe bomb on a packed commercial jet flying from London to the United States over the Atlantic.

As further evidence that Zazi was serious, authorities alleged in the detention memo that they found evidence that he had heated the chemicals on the stove of an Aurora apartment unit he had rented Aug. 28. "Importantly, the bomb-making notes [found on his laptop] contemplate heating the components in order to make them highly concentrated."

The detention motion alleges that Zazi plotted for more than a year to launch the bomb plot, that he had recently bought some bomb-making supplies from beauty supply stores and that he was looking for "urgent" help in the last two weeks to make homemade bombs. On Sept. 6 and 7, before he set off in a rental car for New York, Zazi tried on multiple times to communicate with another individual "seeking to correct mixtures of ingredients to make explosives."

"Each communication," the detention motion alleged, was "more urgent in tone than the last."

In public statements, Zazi has denied being part of any terrorist plot. But the FBI alleges in court documents that he admitted under questioning to receiving explosives and weapons training by Al Qaeda in the tribal areas of Pakistan that are considered to be the headquarters for the terror network headed by Osama bin Laden.

Authorities also allege in the court documents that they found handwritten bomb-making instructions on a hard drive on Zazi's laptop computer that appear to match his handwriting, and that they found his fingerprints on the kind of small electronic scale and batteries often used in the making of homemade bombs.

But the federal authorities also have acknowledged that they remain unsure of a specific target or scope or timing of a possible attack. And they confirmed to the Tribune Washington Bureau on Monday that U.S. counter-terrorism officials have identified at least a dozen other individuals that they fear might be part of a plot to detonate homemade bombs on New York City commuter trains or other "soft" civilian targets.

Zazi's father, Mohammed, and Ahmad Wais Afzali, a Queens imam and New York police informant, also have been charged with lying to investigators in the case. Mohammed Zazi is expected to be freed on $50,000 bail after today's hearing. Afzali's lawyer says he is an innocent scapegoat who was unfairly accused of tipping off Zazi to the terrorism investigation.

FBI agents in Colorado first arrested Zazi on Sept. 19, after prosecutors filed a criminal complaint charging him with knowingly and willfully making false statements to the FBI in a matter involving international and domestic terrorism.

The arrests came after the FBI raided numerous locations in New York and Colorado, looking for evidence of explosives and other suspects. Federal agents are still poring over evidence seized in those raids, including computers and cellphones. And the FBI and Department of Homeland Security in recent days have sent out a flurry of alerts, warning authorities around the country to be on the lookout for such explosives, and any evidence of a possible attack on mass transit, sports arenas and entertainment complexes.