- The Washington Times - Friday, September 18, 2009

DENVER — FBI agents questioned the father of a man under investigation in a terrorism probe in New York and Denver about his son’s background, a defense attorney said Friday.

The FBI didn’t say why it wanted to talk to Mohammed Zazi, who left the Federal Building in Denver after about three hours. His son, Najibullah Zazi, was being questioned for a third day Friday.

Attorney Armstrong Graham said Mohammed Zazi was asked about his son’s history. Graham declined further comment.

Asked by reporters if his son was frightened, Mohammed Zazi said: “If you don’t have anything, why would you be scared?” He refused to answer more questions.

FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright said she couldn’t comment.

Najibullah Zazi has already undergone hours of questioning this week, and his apartment and his uncle and aunt’s home in suburban Denver have been searched.

Authorities have not said what they found and have made no public statements on the investigation.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder insisted Friday there was no immediate danger.

“There are no imminent threats, on the basis of what we have uncovered,” Holder told reporters in Minneapolis. “The FBI is working this case around the clock in both cities and in other parts of the country. And we will make sure that if there are crimes that were committed that they will be charged and people will be held accountable.”

Najibullah Zazi hasn’t been arrested, and his attorney, Arthur Folsom, says he doesn’t expect him to be.

An official familiar with the investigation told Associated Press that the younger man had contact with a known al Qaeda associate. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, would not provide details on the location or nature of the encounter.

The official said agents have been monitoring Najibullah Zazi and four others in Colorado as part of a terrorism investigation. It wasn’t immediately known whether Mohammed Zazi was one of the four.

Folsom said his client has never met with al Qaeda operatives and isn’t involved in terrorism.

“He’s simply somebody who was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Folsom said Thursday.

Folsom told The Denver Post the agents aren’t repeating questions to Zazi but are asking different things.

“They are going through things — the best I can describe it is chronologically. Covering all the bases,” Folsom said.

Najibullah Zazi is a driver for an airport shuttle service in Denver. Authorities say he rented a car and drove from Denver to New York, crossing into Manhattan the day before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

He was stopped in what was described as a routine stop at the George Washington Bridge before he was allowed to go free.

A relative said Zazi drove because he wanted to see the American countryside. Zazi said he went to New York to resolve some issues with a coffee cart he owns in Manhattan, but officials suspected that something more sinister might have been in the works.

FBI agents and police officers with search warrants seeking bomb materials searched three apartments and questioned residents in the neighborhood in Queens where he was staying.

A joint FBI-New York Police Department task force feared Zazi may be involved in a potential plot involving hydrogen peroxide-based explosives like those cited in an intelligence warning issued Monday, said two other law enforcement officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the investigation.

Federal intelligence officers have sent state and local officials details about different hydrogen peroxide-based explosives. Three separate memos, dated Sept. 16 and obtained by Associated Press, include descriptions about how to identify specific combinations of explosives: hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, hydrogen peroxide and organic fuel mixtures, and triacetone triperoxide. Each memo states that these explosives could be used in “an attack against the United States” and can be made at home.

Folsom said Zazi, 24, was born in Afghanistan in 1985, moved to Pakistan at age 7 and emigrated to the United States in 1999. Zazi’s aunt had said earlier that he was born in Pakistan and grew up in Queens, N.Y.

Folsom said Zazi has returned to Pakistan four times in recent years: in 2004 because his grandfather was sick and dying, in 2006 to get married, and in 2007 and 2008 to visit his wife.

Associated Press writers Adam Goldman and Eileen Sullivan in Washington, D.C., and Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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