Three native Afghans are scheduled to appear in federal court Monday after being arrested late Saturday by U.S. law enforcement agents in Colorado and New York on charges of making false statements in an ongoing terror investigation. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says, while there is no specific information on the timing, location or target of an attack, the suspects may have links to a plot to detonate improvised explosive devices in the United States.
FBI agents arrested 24-year old Najibullah Zazi, a legal permanent resident from Afghanistan and airport shuttle driver, and his father, 53-year old Mohammed Wali Zazi, a naturalized U.S. citizen, in suburban Denver, Colorado. Agents also arrested 37-year old Ahmad Wais Afzali, a legal permanent resident, in Flushing, New York, and a police informant. They have each been charged with knowingly and willfully making false statements to the FBI in a matter involving international and domestic terrorism. If convicted, they could face eight years imprisonment.
According to the FBI, Najibullah Zazi travelled to Pakistan in August 2008, returning to the United States early in 2009. The three have allegedly been in contact with each other and, in monitored phone conversations, were said to have been aware they were being watched by U.S. authorities.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters Sunday, while Najibullah Zazi visited New York earlier this month, agents legally searched his rental car and found a laptop computer.
"What was on his computer, nine pages of handwritten material that refers to fuses, or how to put together ignition devices for a larger explosion," said Kelly.
Kelly says authorities alleged the younger Zazi lied when he denied any knowledge of the notes. They also say that, during questioning, he admitted receiving instruction on weapons and explosives training at an al-Qaida facility in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. He has denied any involvement in a terrorist plot.
Afzali is accused of lying when, during an FBI interview, he said he did not tell the father and son they were subjects of interest to authorities. Mohammed Zazi is accused of lying to the FBI when he allegedly denied knowing Afzali or speaking with him.
Police Commissioner Kelly suggested more arrests are possible saying, "this investigation is only just beginning. It has many different avenues to take."
David Kris, assistant U.S. attorney general for national security says, "The arrests are part of an ongoing and fast-paced investigation."