Another Full Day of FBI Questioning for Najibullah Zazi, More Friday

Update: CBS' Rick Salinger reports at 11:30 pm Thursday, the questioning ended for the day and Zazi will return Friday for more questioning.


Najibullah Zazi, the 24 year old person of interest in a federal terror investigation that is linked to last week's apartment searches in Queens, NY, began his second day of voluntary interrogation at 2:00 pm Thursday at the FBI office in Denver. As of 11:00 p.m., he was still there. I presume he is completely innocent of terror activities. But I question whether his voluntary cooperation will prove beneficial to him in the long run -- legally and otherwise.

CBS News today reported that Zazi filed bankruptcy in March, 2009 in the Eastern District of New York. The order of discharge was entered last month. Zazi's debts consisted of $52,000., all stemming from credit cards. At least 15 of the 20 credit card accounts were opened in a four month period in 2008. [More...]

Bankruptcy petitions are filed under oath. It's a felony to knowingly make a false oath on a material matter in a bankruptcy case(See, 18 USC Section 152(2).) The penalty is up to five years in prison. Zazi stated on his petition he was unmarried. But according to statements that Zazi, his family and his lawyer made to the media this week, he's married and visits Pakistan three times a year to see his wife. He's been trying to get a visa for his wife to join him here. (He has a green card and is eligible for citizenship next month.)

And, while he said he on his petition he was a “self-employed street vendor” earning $800. a month, he did not list any ownership interest in a coffee cart or joint venture. But, according to his lawyer,

The lawyer also said Zazi drove to New York in a rented car to take care of a problem with the location of a coffee cart that he co-owns with a friend, and to visit friends.

As to how the investigation began: CNN reports law enforcement sources who have been briefed on the case say the investigation began with Zazi and spread to New York, rather than the other way around:

[A}ccording to law enforcement sources with knowledge of the investigation, the Colorado searches were part of a probe that began with Zazi and led to New York. A former counterterrorism official briefed on the investigation also said bomb instructions were found, but could not say where.

....The case began with a New York police informant, with authorized FBI wiretaps used to further develop the case, the former counterterrorism official said. Agents launched the raids after police stopped Zazi on the George Washington Bridge during a recent visit to New York, raising concerns that he would figure out he was under surveillance, the former official told CNN.

According to the local news Thursday night, Zazi's lawyer told them he thinks the investigation into Zazi began when he rented a car in his father's name last week to drive to New York. (His lawyer explained he didn't have a credit card in his own name.) How does he square that with the statements of multiple law enforcement sources -- that Zazi was under investigation for weeks before he rented the car?

Yesterday, I questioned the wisdom of Zazi's voluntarily talking to the F.B.I. and media. Now I question it even more. If the FBI wanted to play hardball, the feds could charge him with making false statements on his bankruptcy petition.

Depending on when he moved to Colorado, there could be another issue with his bankruptcy petition. Here's his application to drive a taxi in Denver. It's dated February, 2009 and he says he's been residing in Denver for a month and in another state (obviously New York) from 1999 to December, 2008. His bankruptcy petition, dated March 26, 2009, has him affirming this statement:

Debtor has been domiciled or has had a residence, principal place of business, or principal assets in this District for 180 days immediately preceding the date of this petition or for a longer part of such 180 days than in any other District.

If he moved to Colorado from New York before December 26, 2008, he would have lived in Colorado for the greater part of the 180 days before filing his petition in New York. That would be a false statement.

One other concern for Zazi: How smart is it to broadcast to the world through the media (particularly to associates who may also be under investigation) that Zazi's been spilling his guts to the FBI about his life, travels, acquaintances and activities, including details about his visit to New York last week? If any of them are criminals, whether he knew it or not, who will protect him from potential retaliation?

I don't question Zazi's innocence on terror allegations. I do question the wisdom of him spending 15 hours trying to convince the FBI of it. The Feds had no prosecutable case against Zazi before he began talking to them and the media. I hope he hasn't given them one -- whether on terror charges or anything else.

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  • Display: Sort:
    It's apparent (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by phat on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 12:30:14 AM EST
    Whatever he did or didn't do, he's getting terrible counsel.

    I'll second that... (none / 0) (#3)
    by Romberry on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 04:10:30 AM EST
    ...unless it turns out that this guy choose to talk to the FBI against the advice of counsel.

    I always raised my kids to be respectful of law enforcement and to never hesitate to call on them if needed. But I also raised them to know in no uncertain terms that if they are being questioned about a crime, law enforcement is not their friend and the thing to say is...nothing.


    How do you obtain 15 credit cards (2.00 / 0) (#5)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 07:45:26 AM EST
    in a four month period without lying on the application? I realize that may be just a civil thing but it sounds like the cards are stuck which means sooner or later the rest of us are going to pay for it.

    Don't forget about al-Marri (none / 0) (#2)
    by scribe on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 01:52:32 AM EST
    He was picked up initially on credit card fraud charges and, immediately before that  was to go to trial, got thrown into the black hole of being designated by Bush as an enemy of the state and was shipped off to the Charleston Brig for years of incommunicado confinement.

    And, to be nice about it, the feds even dismissed the criminal charges against him - with prejudice - pretty much simultaneously with sweeping him into military custoday.

    To be fair (none / 0) (#6)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 07:57:26 AM EST
    to the Feds if we are going to tell the first part, let's tell the rest.

    On April 30, 2009 he entered a plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization. Sentencing was scheduled for July 30, 2009.[1]

    Al-Marri admitted in his plea that he attended terrorist training camps between 1998 and 2001, where he studied weapons and operational security. He met with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and "offered his services" to aid al-Qaeda; Mohammed told him to travel to America by September 20, 2001 and wait for further instructions.[3] Al-Marri said that while enrolled at Bradley University, he researched cyanide on the Internet and continued communicating with al-Qaeda.[3]



    You are forgetting (none / 0) (#8)
    by scribe on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 09:03:10 AM EST
    that back in 2001 he was arrested and interrogated, then charged with credit card fraud (of one flavor or another)  He was set to be tried on those charges in 2003 or 2004 when Bushie swept him into the category of "enemy combatant" and then sent him off to the naval Brig in Charleston.  At that time, the then-pending credit card fraud charges were dismissed on the government's motion with prejudice.  

    After spending 6 yeas in incommunicado torture, the feds decided to charge him criminally once it became clear the Supreme Court was going to tell them that, no, they could not do what they had been doing.  The decision to release al-Marri from military captivity and arrest him in an ordinary criminal proceeding - charging him with material support of terrorism - was then used as the reason supporting the government's application to the Supreme Court to dismiss as moot al-Marri's then-pending appeal (from a decision of the Fourth Circuit which favored the government holding people in incommunicado military detention on the President's say-so and until his whimsy changed).  As I recall it, al-Marri's appeal to the Supreme Court had already been argued, but it surely had already been fully briefed.

    The upshot is that it is still good law in the Fourth Circuit, both under al-Marri and under Padilla (Jose Padilla's case - where the government pulled a similar stunt to avoid pending Supreme Court review of a Fourth Circuit decision favorable to the government), for the government to hold someone in incommunicado military captivity on the President's say-so, without any proofs, and for so long as the President wants to keep it going, and without judicial review.

    Go read.

    And, BTW, the repetition of this chicanery on al-Marri was in March of this year.  The blame for it - one of the darkest days in American history (and, arguably, the death of the republican form of government) lies on Obama and Holder.  It was their call to keep going with the Bush/Cheney precedent.


    All of what you write (1.00 / 1) (#9)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 09:23:27 AM EST
    is probably accurate.

    The facts are that he has admitted who and what he was so I don't care that he was held as an unlawful combatant.

    The terrorist attacks and the cultural war brought against us by radical Muslims have strained our legal system. But you lean too far in one direction while you think I lean too far in the other.

    All I know for sure is that you can't treat these people the same as you would someone who is accused of robbing a QuickiMart. There has to be some way to find a middle ground.

    You think the system was jerked around after 9/11. Just imagine what will happen if we have another major attack within the US.


    if there is another major attack (none / 0) (#11)
    by Dadler on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 09:33:35 AM EST
    it would only serve to unite americans, and once again the world with us.  they have no strategic need to attack us again, we have done a marvelous job of destroying ourselves in the aftermath of 9/11.  our economy is in shambles for a long time, our military is stretched and worn, our confidence in the the future is non-existent.  we took the bait, and the hook is in there pretty good.  

    Too much attention to detail! (none / 0) (#4)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 05:48:07 AM EST
    The guy isn't an accountant and has muddled his affairs, obviously with the credit cards!  But maybe some of that money went into the "cart business" but in his friend's name.  There he seems smart like a good NY Wall Street Corporation.

    The cart is probably not in his name, just his buddy's who lives in New York.

    As for being married, well if she isn't in the country and can't come here legally, that sort of puts her in a different category and that could certainly be reasonable and arguable for an Islamic man who can have several wives.

    The residency thing too can be arguable.  He could have two residencies one living with friends one place and with family in another, and just cite the convenient one on the credit cards.

    I think he is probably innocent but knows some suspicious guys.  Maybe they played soccer together back in the old country.

    And now when confronted by the FBI, he believes in that good old American adage that "if you are innocent you have nothing to fear."  Sounds like he is ready for citizenship which is probably the club that the FBI is holding over his head to get him to be so forthcoming.

    That adage... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 07:58:45 AM EST
    "if you are innocent you have nothing to fear" has been a myth since it was first spoken...as this young man is about to find about.

    I'd really like to be wrong though...I'd love to see the FBI show some class and not pursue any two-bit charges once the terrorism investigation comes up empty.


    They are not interviewing (2.00 / 0) (#10)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 09:24:35 AM EST
    him because they think he is innocent.

    Please keep your comments to (none / 0) (#12)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Sep 18, 2009 at 10:45:33 AM EST
    the topic of Zazi. This post is about him.