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Complaint suggests NYPD mis-stepped in terror probe

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - 18:52

New York: Police acting without the FBI`s
knowledge may have inadvertently helped blow the surveillance
of a terrorism suspect and compromised a bomb plot
investigation at a sensitive stage by questioning an imam
about him, a criminal complaint suggests.

"They came to ask me about your characters," the Muslim
religious leader, Ahmad Wais Afzali, told Najibullah Zazi in a
secretly recorded Sept. 11 telephone conversation. "They asked
me about you guys."

At least one of those New York Police Department
detectives, referred to in the recently unsealed criminal
complaint, works for a division that operates independently
from an FBI-run terrorism task force.

The complaint also suggests investigators may have tipped
off Zazi, a 24-year-old Denver airport shuttle driver, by
towing and searching a rental car he was using on a New York
City trip that heightened fears of an attack.

The maneuver, authorities say, produced evidence of
bomb-making instructions retrieved from a hard drive on Zazi`s

But it also apparently didn`t get by the suspect: In the
phone conversation with Afzali, Zazi said the car`s
disappearance convinced him he was being watched.

NYPD and FBI officials have denied that the potential
missteps forced their hand in a series of high-profile raids
last week, prompted Zazi to abort his New York visit and
caused friction between the two agencies, which work together
through the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Bureau Report

First Published: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - 18:52
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