War on Terror

FBI Arrests 3 Men in Alleged U.S. Terrorist Plot

| by DOJ

Two individuals in Colorado and one individual in New York have been arrested
on charges of making false statements to federal agents in an ongoing terror

FBI agents in Colorado arrested Najibullah Zazi, 24, a resident of Aurora,
Colo., and legal permanent resident from Afghanistan, and his father Mohammed
Wali Zazi, 53, a resident of Aurora and a naturalized U.S. citizen from
Afghanistan. In addition, FBI agents in New York arrested Ahmad Wais Afzali, 37,
a resident of Flushing, N.Y., and a legal permanent resident from

Each of the defendants has been charged by criminal complaint with knowingly
and willfully making false statements to the FBI in a matter involving
international and domestic terrorism. Najibullah Zazi and Mohammed Zazi are
scheduled to make their initial appearances on Monday in federal court in the
District of Colorado. Ahmad Afzali is scheduled to make his initial appearance
on Monday in federal court in the Eastern District of New York. If convicted,
each faces a potential eight years imprisonment.

"The arrests carried out tonight are part of an ongoing and fast-paced
investigation. It is important to note that we have no specific information
regarding the timing, location or target of any planned attack. As
always, however, the American people should remain vigilant and report any
suspicious activities to their local authorities," said David Kris, Assistant
Attorney General for National Security. "I would like to thank the many agents,
analysts and attorneys who are working extremely hard on this important

According to affidavits filed in support of the three criminal complaints,
the FBI is investigating several individuals in the United States, Pakistan and
elsewhere, relating to a plot to detonate improvised explosive devices in the
United States.

Records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reflect that, on Aug.
28, 2008, Najibullah Zazi flew to Peshawar, Pakistan from Newark International
Airport via Geneva, Switzerland and Doha, Qatar. CBP records further reflect
that Najibullah Zazi traveled from Peshawar to John F. Kennedy International
Airport on or about Jan. 15, 2009.

According to the affidavits, on or about Sept. 9, 2009, FBI agents observed
Najibullah Zazi depart his residence in Colorado in a rented car. He drove to
New York City, arriving the following day, and spent the night at a residence in
Flushing, Queens ("the Queens Residence.")

On Sept. 10, 2009, New York City Police Department (NYPD) detectives met with
defendant Afzali, whom the NYPD had utilized as a source in the past. According
to the affidavits, the detectives questioned Afzali about Najibullah Zazi and
others and showed him photographs of Najibullah Zazi and others. Afzali
allegedly told the detectives he recognized Najibullah Zazi and several of the
men in the photographs.

According to affidavits, on Sept. 11, 2009, defendant Mohammed Zazi placed a
call to Afzali which lasted approximately 20 minutes. That same day, the FBI
lawfully intercepted a phone conversation between Mohammed Zazi and his son,
Najibullah Zazi. An affidavit alleges that, during the conversation, Mohammed
Zazi told his son that he had spoken to Afzali who had informed him about being
visited by law enforcement and shown photographs. Mohammed Zazi told his son
that Afzali would call him and he advised his son to speak with Afzali "before
anything else," according to affidavits.

In the midst of this phone call, Najibullah Zazi allegedly received a call
from Afzali, who discussed his meeting with law enforcement the day before.
According to a draft summary of the transcription, Afzali allegedly stated: "I
was exposed to something yesterday from law enforcement. And they came to ask me
about your characters." Afzali also allegedly asked Najibullah Zazi about his
last trip to Pakistan and added, "Listen, our phone call is being

According to the affidavits, in another legally intercepted phone
conversation on Sept. 11, 2009, Najibullah Zazi told Afzali that his car had
been stolen and that he feared he was being "watched." Afzali allegedly asked if
there was any "evidence in his car," and Najibullah Zazi said no.

That same day, FBI agents conducted a legally authorized search of Najibullah
Zazi’s rental car, which was parked near the Queens residence. During the
search, agents found a laptop computer containing a jpeg image of nine-pages of
handwritten notes. According to the affidavits, the notes contain formulations
and instructions regarding the manufacture and handling of initiating
explosives, main explosives charges, explosives detonators and components of a
fuzing system. On Sept. 12, 2009, Najibullah Zazi flew from La Guardia Airport
in New York to Denver.

On Sept. 16, 2009, FBI agents interviewed Najibullah Zazi in Denver.
According to an affidavit, when he was asked about and shown handwritten notes
regarding explosives found on his laptop computer, Najibullah Zazi falsely
asserted that he had never seen the document before and stated he had not
written the notes.

On Sept. 17 and 18, 2009, Najibullah Zazi was further interviewed by the FBI
in Denver. According to affidavits, Najibullah Zazi admitted in the interviews
that during his 2008 trip to Pakistan, he attended courses and received
instruction on weapons and explosives at an al-Qaeda training facility in the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan.

The affidavits allege that, on Sept. 17, 2009, Afzali was interviewed by
authorities in New York where he falsely asserted in a written statement that he
did not tell Najibullah Zazi or Mohammed Zazi that authorities had approached
him seeking information about Najibullah Zazi. According to the affidavits,
Afzali also falsely asserted that he never told Najibullah Zazi that they were
being monitored on the phone and that he never asked Najibullah Zazi about
evidence in his car.

The affidavits further allege that, on Sept. 16, 2009, Mohammed Zazi was
interviewed by the FBI in Denver where he was asked whether anyone had called
him and told him about his son’s activities and any trouble regarding his son.
According to the affidavits, Mohammed Zazi falsely stated that he had never
called anyone in New York other than his son and he had never received a call
from anyone in New York. He allegedly revised his statement to say he had
received one call from an individual who informed him that his son had missed
his flight. According to the affidavits, Mohammed Zazi was later asked if he
knew anyone by the name of Afzali and he said he did not.