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An Afghan immigrant pleaded not guilty in U.S. federal court on Tuesday to charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. Prosecutors accuse Najibullah Zazi of conspiring to use homemade bombs against unspecified targets in the United States. Zazi is being without bail in a New York City jail.
Najibullah Zazi appeared calm and confident during his brief arraignment.
Prosecutors say the 24-year-old Zazi received explosives training from al-Qaida in Pakistan. He is accused of buying hair care products that can be used to build homemade bombs.
Zazi denies any links to terrorism. His defense attorney, J. Michael Dowling, cautioned the public against a rush to judgment.
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"What I've seen so far is that Mr. Zazi has traveled to Pakistan, which is not illegal, that Mr. Zazi purchased certain products that contain certain chemicals that allegedly could be used to make a bomb," said J. Michael Dowling. "Those acts are not illegal. I have not seen any evidence of an agreement between Mr. Zazi and anyone else that is the essence of a conspiracy charge."
Prosecutors say Zazi spent more than a year plotting an attack on the United States with co-conspirators.
The FBI had been monitoring Zazi for some time and grew increasingly concerned this month, when he rented a car in Colorado and drove to New York. Investigators say they secretly searched the vehicle and found a laptop computer with bomb-making instructions. Prosecutors accuse Zazi of conspiring to use homemade bombs against unspecified targets in the United States. Law enforcement officials have said the plot might have involved New York City's mass transit system.
Zazi flew back to Denver on September 12 and was arrested a week later. He is being held in New York without bail and is due back in court in December.
If convicted, Zazi faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.