Thursday, September 17, 2009

AURORA, Colo. (AP) | Federal agents Wednesday searched the home of a suburban Denver man identified by law enforcement as having a possible link to al Qaeda, carting away several boxes of evidence.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force went through the home of Najibullah Zazi, as well as the nearby residence of his aunt, Rabia Zazi, FBI special agent Kathleen Wright said.

Mr. Zazi denies that he’s a central figure in a terrorism investigation that fed fears of a possible bomb plot and led to several police raids in New York City on Monday.

Mr. Zazi, 24, was being interviewed at FBI headquarters in Denver late Wednesday but was not under arrest, according to his attorney, Arthur Folsom. Mr. Zazi provided authorities a DNA sample, a fingerprint, handwriting samples and information about his travel history, Mr. Folsom said.

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“My client is not involved in any terror plot,” Mr. Folsom declared. “He answered every question they had.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver said it had no immediate comment.

One agent wearing protective clothing escorted a dog belonging to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives into Mr. Zazi’s apartment. FBI agents left the apartment with at least six boxes. One box was labeled “swabs,” and others were marked “fragile” and “glass.”

Agents also escorted three women and a man from the apartment. Two of the women covered their faces with head scarves, and the third used a canvas chair to shield her face. All were driven away in an sport utility vehicle.

Two law enforcement officials told the AP that a joint FBI-New York Police Department task force had put Mr. Zazi under surveillance because of suspected links to terrorist organizations.

The task force also feared Mr. Zazi was involved in a potential plot involving homemade hydrogen peroxide-based explosives like those cited in an intelligence warning issued Monday, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the investigation.

After Mr. Zazi traveled to New York City over the weekend, FBI agents and police officers armed with search warrants seeking bomb materials searched three apartments and questioned residents in a predominantly Asian neighborhood in Queens.

Naiz Khan, an Afghan immigrant who grew up with Mr. Zazi in New York City, said the FBI questioned him for about two hours about Mr. Zazi, whom he said stayed at his apartment last week.

No arrests were announced, and the FBI and New York Police Department have refused to discuss the case.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said Wednesday there are no specific terrorist threats to the city.

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