FBI eyes terror suspect's travel talk
WASHINGTON (AP) -- An Afghan immigrant accused of plotting a terror attack in New York City contacted accomplices there while making a cross-country drive from Denver, raising concerns among investigators that he was sending instructions to purch...
WASHINGTON (AP) -- An Afghan immigrant accused of plotting a terror attack in New York City contacted accomplices there while making a cross-country drive from Denver, raising concerns among investigators that he was sending instructions to purchase more bomb-making chemicals, officials familiar with the case said.
Terrorism investigators are trying to determine whether suspect Najibullah Zazi sent instructions to associates as he drove from Denver to New York last month, according to law enforcement officials. Such instructions could explain a critical missing piece of the high-profile terrorism case -- why authorities could not find actual explosives.
Two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, told The Associated Press that as Zazi drove, he was in communication with associates, and one of the officials said investigators believe the communications included instructions for the associates to purchase more chemicals for homemade bombs.
The officials did not describe the nature of the communication, but court documents indicate investigators have been examining Zazi's cell phone and e-mail traffic.
Court documents indicate that the 24-year-old Zazi and others were hitting beauty supply stores, buying concentrated bottles of hydrogen peroxide hair dye. He and others also bought acetone -- nail polish remover -- and other ingredients that can be used to make a powerful and highly unstable explosive called triacetone triperoxide, or TATP. The same explosive was used by would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid in 2001 and the terrorists who carried out the London bombings in 2005 that killed 52 people.
Zazi's journey just before the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks set off alarm bells at the highest levels of government, from the CIA to the Justice Department to the White House. Attorney General Eric Holder has called it one of the most serious terrorism cases since the 2001 attacks.
Zazi has denied being involved in a terrorist plot, and has pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiring to detonate explosives in the United States.
A handful of people believed to be Zazi's accomplices are under surveillance and are not believed to still pose a threat because the plot was disrupted, officials have said. More arrests are expected.
For weeks, investigators have been hunting evidence of what they say was a bomb-building stay by Zazi at a hotel near his Aurora, Colo., home just before he drove to New York.
One possibility being considered by counterterrorism agents is that whatever device or devices were built in the hotel room, they were detonated at some isolated location in Colorado as a test run of the bomb recipe. In recent weeks, agents in that area have been searching for a possible location of such a test explosion, the two officials said.