FBI Executes Search Warrants on Terror Subject in Denver
As Najibullah Zazi was at the F.B.I. office in Denver with his lawyer voluntarily providing statements, handwriting samples and DNA, FBI agents were en route to search his residence. So why is Zazi talking to the feds? (Note: Update here.)
Zazi's lawyer says he called the FBI and offered to bring him down for an interview. The FBI called back and accepted. The local media sounds thrilled the lawyer for the suspect is "video-genic." I'll bet the F.B.I. is too. While Zazi was sitting in their office with his lawyer, volunteering handwriting exemplars and providing fingerprints and a saliva sample (and information about his travel history), they were searching his apartment (and his aunt's and uncle's nearby.) [More...]
This is a federal-state terrorism investigation involving the NYPD and the feds in Washington. They've obviously been watching Zasi for a while. They knew he was en route to New York because they stopped him on the GW bridge on his way into the city and asked to search his car (for drugs, they said.) He consented. While there over the weekend, his lawyer says his car was towed for a parking violation and they searched his laptop. Sounds like he was picked up on a wiretap, and the person whose phone was tapped is someone they believe has real terror ties.
Search warrants are executed every day. Not too many like this though:
Authorities quickly cordoned off the complex's parking lot with police tape, evacuated Zazi's apartment building and an adjacent building and asked the media to move back.
One poor woman in the complex was in her apartment, with a face mask on her face, watching Dirty Dancing on her DVR in her underwear (you can't make this stuff up) and the police made her leave the building. They also had a local school delay letting the kids leave after school and parents were asked to come pick up their kids.
FBI agents wore wearing protective gear and were accompanied by dogs during the search of Zazi's apartment. (The feds have been putting out clues about hand burns today.) The FBI made some other visits in the Denver area today -- to Home Depot, seeking information about purchases of large amounts of chemicals. They weren't asking randomly. They had credit card numbers and asked for video of specific times the purchases were made. The chemicals: "Muriatic acid and another strong chemical used to clean concrete."
As to why Zazi drove to New York from Colorado in a rental car for the weekend on the weekend of Sept. 11 (flying back last night after leaving the rental car at the airport), the New York Times reports he says he was resolving an issue with a coffee cart lease his father owned. The cart operator confirms there is a lease and Zazi stopped by this week. (It's not cheap to drive a car across the country and leave it at the airport on the other side.)
And Zazi thinks he can just go down to the F.B.I. and explain things and they'll apologize and clear his name? Apparently not. Here's the latest: It's been 8 hours and he's still there.
As of 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Zazi had still not left the FBI building. His attorney was called back there around 7 p.m. after leaving around 6 p.m.
What did the FBI take during the searches:
Agents left Zazi's apartment with at least six boxes. One was labeled "swabs," and others were marked "fragile" and "glass."
As I always say, the jails are filled with people who thought if they could only tell their side of the story, the cops would see it their way. It rarely happens. The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and Miranda rights exist for good reason. Use them or lose them.
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